NEC responds to PPCC on EKEMP’s ability to handle biometric voter registration – FrontPageAfrica

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monrovia – The authorities of the National Election Commission (NEC) have taken their time to respond carefully to the qualms raised by the Public Procurement and Concessions Committee (PPCC) regarding the selection of one of the six companies, including the combined companies , to carry out the biometric processing of voter cards 2023.

In the 10-page letter from the NEC sent to Att’y Jargbe Roseline Nagbe-Kowo on September 13, 2022, the Managing Director of PPCC, Mrs. Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, President of NEC, said that she had chosen the joint venture of Ekemp International Limited , INITS Limited and Palm Insurance Inc., as it was “the most responsive bidder in the international tender for IFB No. NEC/VRPLE/ICB/001/2002”. The companies chosen are a combination of three companies, which pooled their resources to win the tender. One of the three combined entities, Palm Insurance, is a Liberian-owned insurance company. The other two, Ekemp is a Chinese company and INITS is based in Nigeria.

The PPCC, in its September 9, 2022 response to NEC regarding the selection and request for “no objection” for the joint venture of Ekemp International Limited, INITS Limited and Palm Insurance Inc., had raised three “observations” .

PPCC Observation 1: “That the recommended bidder Ekemp International Limited/INITS Limited/Palm Insurance Inc., Joint Venture Agreement declares that Palm Insurance: 3(c) vii: will provide all necessary pre-financing for the purchase of materials and services for the effective implementation of the Project, and 2(c) vii: provide all pre-financing in support of the bidding process: However, Palm Insurance’s financial statements showing its financial position, on the contrary, reflect total equity and liabilities of $2,899,027 at the end of 2021 (December 31, 2021).”

NEC’s response: “Considering that some suppliers, regardless of the information contained in their financial statements, have requested advance payment when signing the contract and do not pre-finance as a matter of principle, the NEC wishes to inform PPCC that it considers that the joint responsibilities of Ekemp International Limited/INITS Limited/Palm Insurance Inc., in its entirety (including their undertaking on page 2, Count 3 of the cover letter to their bid as follows: “We confirm that we are able and able to pre-finance the supply and delivery of biometric equipment, software and hardware for voter registration for the 2023 general election.” With this, the NEC has found that the joint venture can pre-finance at its level of responsibilities.All three parties to the joint venture are direct service providers and/or original equipment manufacturers, allowing partners to comm start the processes immediately and deliver to the Commission on time. uh, the terms of the contracts, as PPCC knows, will prevail and each member of the joint venture is held individually and severally liable/liable.

PPCC Observation 2: “As per NEC’s Bid Evaluation Report, bidders were also evaluated and inspected on key demonstrations of required functionality and criteria. PPCC kindly requests videos of demonstrations from the listed vendors; and hard and soft copies of PowerPoint presentations.

NEC response: “The NEC would like to inform the PPCC that the presentation of the suppliers was made physically before the Bid Evaluation Committee of which there were only physical demonstrations, no video recording was made and the Tender Evaluation Committee did not request any PowerPoint presentations. Photos were taken and during the presentation and said photos were submitted to PPCC on September 2, 2022.”

PPCC Observation 3: “The Ekemp International Limited/INITS Limited/Palm Insurance Inc. joint venture agreement is not notarized. »

Response from the NEC: “The NEC would like to inform the PPCC that the standard tender document did not require bidders to notarize their joint venture agreement.”

In addition to the pre-financing capacity, expertise, knowledge and experience of Palm Insurance, partner of the tripartite joint venture with Ekemp and INITS, PPCC again in the same letter of September 9, 2022, referred to an exchange June 30, 2022 emails between bidder Laxton Group Limited and NEC staff, where Laxton requested clarification on the removal of the tripod requirement from the required tablet with fingerprint reader; and that because the NEC did not videotape the bidders’ physical presentation of their respective registration and deduplication processes, the NEC must call the bidders to rerun their respective registration and deduplication processes .

Also among other responses, the NEC asked the PPCC to reconsider its decision. The electoral body further told the public procurement commission that it had provided explanations in its September 2, 2022 communication to the PPCC regarding the capacity of the joint venture.

“Although the NEC’s response to PPCC Observation 1 instructed the PPCC to review the recommended bidder’s submission in its entirety, the PPCC’s follow-up communication, dated September 9, 2022, shows that the PPCC did not reviewed the bidder’s bid in its entirety. If this had been done, the PPCC would have seen that page 6 of Ekemp’s audited financial statements shows Ekemp’s turnover for the last two years as follows: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020: 55,552,785.13 HKD [US$707,763.71]; January 1, 2021 to December 2021: HKD 95,527,850.13 [US$12,170,555.71].”

The NEC further argues that if audited financial statements are all that is necessary to determine a supplier’s ability to pre-finance, then all would agree that Ekemp’s audited financial statements show that it is also financially able to pre-finance. . “Furthermore, the joint commitment of Ekemp, INITS and Palm to pre-finance (“We confirm that we are able and able to pre-finance the supply and delivery of equipment, software and biometric hardware for the registration of voters for the 2023 general election elections,’) as noted on page 2, count 3, of the cover letter, should dispel any concerns as to whether the selected bidder has demonstrated the ability to pre-finance a contract for approximately $12 million which will be executed in three stages with payment made upon successful completion of each stage,” he added.

According to the NEC, Ekemp develops, designs and manufactures biometric terminals and provides solutions for biometric enrollment and verification and smart identification. “In accordance with their joint agreement, upon contract award, Ekemp will be responsible for the supply of the following goods and services, namely the manufacture, testing, delivery, installation and customization of the registration kits for voters and materials for the 2023 Liberia General Elections; participate in the training of NEC staff; provide a sample kit of biometric voter registration equipment, hardware and software upon request of the NEC; and will carry out the project as stipulated in the tender documents and contract award.”

For INITS, the electoral body declares that it specializes in the development of innovative tailor-made biometric software and services and manages them. “INITS will be responsible for technical support and technology, ensuring the completion of all technical-related services,” said the letter from President Brown-Lansanah to Atty Nagbe-Kowo.

The NEC Chairperson, after outlining the entity’s reasons why the Tripartite Joint Venture is best suited for the Herculean task ahead, concluded, “As a Commission that prides itself on conducting free, fair and transparent elections , the NEC has worked within the limits of the law to be fair to all bidders.Fairness to all bidders, including the joint venture bidder evaluated as the most responsive, requires the NEC and PPCC to act on the factual basis of the procurement process and review a bidder’s submission in its entirety As stated in its joint submission and highlighted in this communication, the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS and Palm has demonstrated its ability to pre-finance and has the expertise, knowledge and experience to do the right thing.

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