Monday, August 8, 2022

Swiss company nets controversial cattle ear tags tender

The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has awarded the Analogue (Visual) Ear Tags and Ear Tag applicators for the Livestock Identification System (LITS) tender to the Swiss manufacturer whose Namibian-based agent is alleged to have helped the ministry in the preparation of the tender document (ITT).

The tender was awarded and approved by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) in one of its December 2012 sittings amid complaints by industry players that Datamars SA would obviously have an unfair advantage over other competitors as its Namibian based agent was part of the team that drew up the ITT.

The tender was awarded at a total value of Euro 728, 896.00 (P7, 288 960.00) inclusive of value added tax.

When the ministry last year opted for the Restricted International Tendering (RIS) model, market players raised concerns that Datamars was unfairly set to clinch the tender as its Namibian based agent was part of the team that drew up the ITT. True to their suspicion, Datamars has been finally awarded the tender.

Responding to Sunday Standard enquiries last year, MoA Chief Agricultural and Public Relations Officer, Boikhutso Rabasha, confirmed that her ministry had opted for the RIS model in the procurement tender.

She denied that the tender preparation had been outsourced. Impeccable sources on the other hand maintained that the Swiss manufacturer’s Namibian-based agent had been part of the ITT drawing team.

At the time, it was understood that the ministry was under pressure to implement the ear-tagging project in the first quarter of 2013 on the back of premature announcement by President Ian Khama at kgotla meetings in the Central District that the bolus system would be phased out and replaced with ear tagging.

Rabasha maintained that the ministry had set itself the target of implementing the project at the beginning of this year.

Asked whether the ministry had already floated an open tender for the procurement of the ear tags in order to meet the intended implementation deadline, Rabasha said like all government procurement processes, there were procedures to be followed in the procurement process as laid down by PPADB.

“The ministry had options available that would support the short period available before the tagging start date, with advice from the regulating entity, the ministry opted for the Restricted International Tendering procedure. This will ensure that government can control the time, since a tender does not have to float for 90 days or more; government will deal directly with the manufacturer both as a cost cutting measure and for product support,” said Rabasha.

At the time, she, however, refused to reveal the budget and quantities required for the project as she could only say that it was initiated in the middle of the financial year and had not been allocated a budget. Funding would in the circumstances be sourced from different votes as and when needed for different aspects of the project.

Although Rabasha refused to disclose the companies that had been short listed for the tender, she said, as this was a restricted international tendering procedure, identification of companies looked at those companies that manufacture, as government wanted to deal directly with the manufacturer at that stage to meet the project specification; the company’s reputation, past production and supply of similar products and registration with the International Committee on Animal Recording (ICAR) and other requirements.

She said the ear tags were widely used internationally, including in Botswana’s trading partners like the European Union and that Botswana would not be the first country to use the method.

In the SADC region she said Namibia has been using the RFID ear tags and exported to the EU like Botswana.

“Botswana benchmarked on Namibia, who have been using the ear tags for some years and have continued accessing the export market,” she said.

Market players had then complained that the restricted tendering method had locked out other potential bidders and encouraged monopoly as well as killing price competitiveness although Rabasha rubbished the claims maintaining that the restricted tendering was done looking at the factors that warranted it.

At the time, it had been alleged that Datamars had already made representations to the ministry including Minister Christian De Graaff, an allegation that Rabasha denied.

She said presentations on available technologies in animal recording, identification, tracing and tracking are done by different companies both locally and internationally all the time.

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