Corruption Watch has uncovered how two former executive directors of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed off questionable contracts worth more than GH¢1.5 million Ghana cedis.
Two of the Agency’s last three executive directors – Mr John Pwamang and Mr Peter Abum Sarkodie – have overseen the award of these contracts, according to Corruption Watch investigator Frederick Asiamah.
Asiamah on Wednesday reported on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM that, the two ex Bosses were said to have signed off contracts worth more than their thresholds as entity heads, without approval from the EPA’s Entity Tender Committee.
Documents in possession of Corruption Watch indicate that Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana has been involved in systemic breaching of procurement rules. Documents prove that different executive directors have approved contract above the permitted thresholds without recourse to the Entity Tender Committees.
During the first stint of John A. Pwamang as Acting Executive Director, he signed two contracts of GH¢154, 653.50 and GH¢174, 534.50 with two service providers for printing of EPA reports in January 2017. He was not authorised to sign those contracts without approval from the EPA’s Entity Tender Committee.
According to the Public Procurement Amendment Act, 2016, Mr Pwamang, as the entity head, has authority to approve all contracts below the threshold of GH¢100,000 for goods and services and GH¢150,000 for works.
Mr John Pwamang, who is having a second stint as the Ag. Executive Director at the EPA has not responded to Corruption Watch’s request for a response even though he has been contacted through a letter, follow up phone calls to his office and a follow up visit.
Mr Peter Abum Sarkodie committed a similar breach in December 2017 when he was then the Executive Director of the EPA. He signed off a GH¢210, 892 contract to Trinity 3 Consult for the supply of items for Christmas packages for EPA staff and retirees.
That contract went wrong, costing the Agency GH¢64, 066 after the price of a box (containing 12 bottles) of Beta Malt was hiked from GH¢50 to GH¢150.
The notification of contract award letter dated 14 December 2017 and signed by Mr Sarkodie, indicated the unit price of Beta Malt at GH¢150. This amount was three times the figure recorded in the evaluation report, which captured the bidding price for Beta Malt as GH¢50.
Mr Sarkodie has defended the signing of the contract without Entity Tender Committee approval saying, the EPA did not have an Entity Tender Committee at the time. However, he says the price change was an error and the supplier, Trinity 3 Consult was notified a few weeks later to refund GH¢64, 066 as overpayment.
Mr Charles Amevor, who was then Deputy Executive Director in charge of Finance and Administration at the EPA and the ultimate supervisor of procurement activities, also says the amount was paid in error. He says upon identifying the error he took steps to retrieve the amount by even seeking the support of the EPA legal team.
Meanwhile, the supplier in question, Trinity 3 Consult has not been able to begin refunding the amount in spite of initially writing to indicate he will refund the amount in three installments, beginning with a GH¢20,000 payment in April 2018.
He told Corruption Watch that he ran at a loss in the contract he executed, therefore he submitted a second invoice to the EPA in an attempt to break even.
It is not clear, however, who at EPA effected the change of the unit price for Beta Malt from GH¢50 to GH¢150. Both Mr Sarkodie and Mr Amevor say they do not know how it came about.
You may recall that the unit price of GH¢50 was the same price at which Rams Kitchen supplied Beta Malt to the National Lottery Authority in December 2017.
Conflict of interest
In other breaches, Mr. Daniel Aggrey and Mr. Patrick Addai, directors for administration and finance, respectively, are in apparent conflict roles as they serve as Entity Tender Committee members as well as constitute themselves into Tender Evaluation Panels.
It is against procurement best practice rules, to have ETC members conduct evaluation of tenders, prepare evaluation reports and sit at the ETC meeting to approve those reports.
A case of lack of value for money audit has also been levelled against the two officers.
In one of many flaws found in their work, they appeared conflicted in a tender for supply of Laboratory Equipment and Consumable items in 2017 when a re-evaluation of tenders they evaluated showed that, the Agency set aside a lowest evaluated bidder and gave a contract to a higher bidder who even missed more specifications.
A different team was able to subsequently renegotiate that contract of GH¢650,057 downwards to GH¢550,052, saving the Agency GH¢100,000.
Watch the discussion on the Super Morning Show below