The Electoral Commission (EC) has defended its decision to award the 2021 ballot printing job to foreign companies.
This comes after three local companies under the Uganda Printers Association petitioned the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) challenging the commission’s decision to award the Shs200bn tender to foreign firms.
The best evaluated foreign bidders were UK-based Tall Security printers and Adare Sec Ltd, Uniprint (South Africa), United Printing and Publishing (Abu Dhabi, UAE), as wells Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company (Dubai).
The commission’s chairman Justice Simon Byabakama says the job requires high level expertise and experience to ensure the final ballots are error free.
He however says they await the authority’s final decision on the matter.
The authority’s executive director Benson Turamye, says his team is concluding the hearing of petitions by Picfare Industries, Interline Printing Services and Graphic Systems companies.
The tenders to print ballot papers for the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, estimated to cost close to sh200b, were awarded to firms from United Kingdom, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The firms include Tall Security Printers (UK), Uniprint (South Africa), United Printing and Publishing (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Adare Sec Ltd (UK) and Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company (Dubai).
Sources who participated in the bidding process accused EC of giving Lot 3 to a foreign firm yet they had quoted lower figures than that firm. Archie Kiwanuka, the UPA chairperson, expressed frustration at the manner in which they were sidelined in the procurement process yet local companies have the capacity to print some of the ballot papers.
The EC cited many reasons why local companies were eliminated from the deal. Group Joss NV was eliminated because it did not submit its certificate of incorporation or its equivalent. There was also no evidence of fulfillment to pay taxes and they did not submit bid security.
Media World Productions Ltd and Abulhoul Printing Press Ltd joint venture was disqualified reportedly because it did not submit their licence, certificate of registration and evidence of payment of taxes.
BN Enterprises Ltd did not submit the bid submission sheet. In-Line, Print Services and Hitech General Trading LLC did not submit a certified joint venture agreement. Marianum Press Ltd, linked to the Catholic church, reportedly submitted invalid bid security and enclosed a commitment letter from SWICO as bid security.
Multiplex Ltd, Wave Media Ltd, In-Line Print Services Ltd, Graphics System (u) ltd, Picfare Industries, Baltjas Banknote and Oriental Security Printing Solutions reportedly did not submit evidence of completion of three contracts of similar nature and complexity.