Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Executive Chairperson Bridget Poppy John and some of her executives have recently spent P1 million on a two-day trip to the London business centre in United Kingdom (UK).
While the PPADB say they were on a benchmarking expedition, the cost of the trip has not sat down well with government, especially coming at a time when the mantra is belt tightening and cost-cutting.
While in London, the PPADB executives met Rene Carayol who is said to be a renowned leadership expert.
They also went to see their regular consultancy called the “Inspired Leaders Network Ltd”.
The PPADB official’s’ UK trip took place on July 30 and 31.
The delegation included the Executive Chairman, three board members, the ICT manager, senior strategy manager and the general manager corporate services.
While the trip was sanctioned by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, it is worth noting that the true cost of the trip was not mentioned in the letter to the ministry.
Travel costs amounted to P230 000, with per diem amounting to P142 000.
The UK consultant had initially charged P900 000 but settled for P525 000 over the two days on condition that the money was deposited in his account in advance.
Before the delegation left concerns were raised internally in case the consultant breached the contract.
“It is worth noting that that the facilitator seeks to be paid in advance, which is a condition of the discount, this may place the organization in a risky situation in case there is a breach in provision of the service,” said one of the PPADB internal memos.
Among other things, Carayol was to identify and facilitate the touring of suitable corporations to be toured and communicate the list to PPADB as well as to organize tours with identified corporations and to provide memoirs of the PPADB learning journey.
Asked to state if the cost of the visit was worth it, PPADB Acting Executive Chairperson, Ken Ketshajwang said that the trip was cost effective.
“As always, we obtained the cheapest air fares we could, and each of the people who went on the trip received the per diem as prescribed by government,” said Ketshajwang.
He pointed out that PPADB financial regulations do allow for a prepayment in case a credit facility does not exist with the service provider. He said to mitigate any counterparty risk both the PPADB and the Inspired Leaders Network Ltd entered into a contract prior to the Learning Journey.
He added that the prepayment has further enabled the PPADB to enjoy a significant discount as the rate was initially stated as ┬ú65,000 with the discount of ┬ú30,000 provisional on early payment.
He also confirmed that the team left for the UK on July 28, arriving in London on the July 29. They then had a brief session on the arrival date with the facilitator in preparation for the benchmarking which started on July 30 focusing on eight companies for two days.
He added that the bench marking was concluded on July 31 and the team left the UK on August 1.
“The Inspired Leaders Network Ltd was preferred on the basis that they have both the Local and International perspective on leadership coaching, culture, and they have a good track record,” said Ketshajwang.