KATHMANDU, Jan 25: The government has called bids on Thursday to develop a Digital Action Room at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) after canceling a controversial contract with an agent of Chinese company Huawei.
The government had canceled the contract with the Chinese company as the anti-graft body, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), launched a probe into the deal after finding that the contract was directly awarded to China Communications Services (CCS) through negotiations. The Public Procurement Act requires that such contracts should be awarded through competitive bidding.
Competitive bidding for the contract was skipped, apparently, under pressure from an adviser to Prime Minister KP Oli, sources said requesting anonymity.
The government in the notice, however, has said the bids will be opened in a week, on January 31, at the PMO Singha Durbar despite that Section 14 (4) of the Public Procurement Act-2063 BS requires that at least 30-day deadline should be given in such tender process.
The contract to set up the facility meant for rapid response to various issues of governance was estimated at 54.2 million when it was awarded to the Chinese company.
PMO spokesperson Binod Kunwar had earlier told that a new contract award process has been initiated as per existing procurement laws.
Earlier, the CIAA had sought clarifications from Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi over the controversial contract awarded allegedly under undue pressure from the prime minister’s chief political adviser, Bishnu Rimal.
Earlier, Prime Minister Oli had claimed in the parliament that the contract was awarded to the Huawei subsidiary through competitive bidding.
Previously, a notice issued by the National Information Technology Center (NITC) calling for open bidding to set up the conferencing system had been canceled following intervention by chief political adviser Rimal and honorary IT consultant at the PMO Asgar Ali, according to sources privy to developments.
The decision to cancel the competitive bidding process and directly award the contract to Huawei subsidiary was taken a month and a half after Ali paid a visit to China at the invitation of Huawei Technologies.