Ghedia: His company cornered

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Jhpiego (Malawi), an international non-profit health organization affiliated with John Hopkins University, has found itself at the centre of controversy after awarding a multi-million contract to Paramount Holdings Limited – a tender which has raised questions – with some bidders threatening to take legal action against the NGO.

A few week ago Jhpiego requested for quotations from a number of local firms to supply motorcycles worth over MK180 million. Just two days ago, without due diligence, the organization settled for Paramount Holdings Limited as the lowest technically acceptable bidder.

“We wish to inform you that , after a lengthy review process the internal procurement committee settled for Paramount Holdings as the lowest technically acceptable bidder” reads the notification from Jhpiego to participating bidders dated July 9, 2021.

Other bidders feel the whole process was staged and have since demanded an explanation from Jhpiego to provide full details of how each of the participating companies fared in the evaluation process.

What makes the tender even more suspicious is the fact that Paramount Holdings Limited used a fake dealer manufacturing certificate from Yamaha.

Apparently, in Malawi, only Stansfield Motors is Yamaha’s certified dealer until May 2022 when their agreement expires.

“Paramount Holdings has been using this fraudulent certificate which is not from Yamaha and this is how they have ended up winning so many tenders.

“We have information of how the firm manipulated the whole process for this tender and Jhpiego as a reputable international NGO must not be party to such fraudulent acts. This tender ought to have been open to avoid backdoor dealings” said one bidder.

Ideally after requesting for quotations, Jhpiego was expected to conduct due diligence rather visit all bidders or top ones to establish if they had the capacity to supply the required motorcycles but this never happened.

“We are not accepting results as due diligence did not apply to your valuations. We wonder what kind of procedures you followed to conclude valuations without inspecting at least three top bidders” reads a complaint from one bidder to Jhpiego.

Two of the bidders that we have spoken to are planning to take legal action if the organization does not respond to their concern within the next two days.

Paramount Holdings Limited, owned by Prakash Ghedia, has been a lucky dealer that won several public and private contracts – a situation, which has attracted the wrath of local firms who accuse the company of ‘hijacking’ tenders through backdoor dealings.

A few days ago Paramount Holdings found itself in a collision course with other bidders after being awarded another contract to supply motorcycles to National Local Government Finance Committee.

Paramount Holdings Limited was not only the highest bidder but had also used the same questionable dealership manufacturing certificate to win the tender.

Paramount Holdings is also facing another battle with other bidders over a tender to supply 55 motorcycles to Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHES).

Concerned bidders have written the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) protesting any intention to award a contract to Paramount Holdings because they suspect fraud in the manner the tender process has been handled.

Paramount Holdings Limited came into limelight two years ago – after it was reported that the firm took a government evaluation team, mainly from Ministry of Health, to Dubai and paid them hefty allowances under the pretext of inspecting supplies.

A few days after this trip, Paramount Holdings was awarded a contract to supply 100 ambulances to Ministry of Health.

The favouring of Paramount Holdings Limited in public tenders defies President Lazarus Chakwera’s order that MDAs should give preference to locals over foreign owned firms as part of the buy Malawi strategy.

The company is yet to comment on the matter.

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