Govt awards meat contracts without bidding process: Documents

KABUL ( Agencies): Documents seen by TOLOnews show that an operational department at the Presidential Palace has awarded the meat supply contracts for the Afghan police and army to a government-owned enterprise without holding a bidding process, sparking criticism within the private sector.

The documents reveal that the newly established policy and strategy office of the Presidential Palace has single-sourced the contracts of the meat supply for the ministries of defense and interior affairs to a government-owned slaughterhouse.

Some MPs, who are members of the defense and internal security of the parliament, said the directorate of policy strategy of the Presidential Palace has awarded the contracts to the government enterprise with higher prices, calling it an act that contravenes the law.

“The single source contract of meat supply for the ministries of defense and interior affairs is against the free market and free competition,” said Khan Agha Rezaee, head of the defense and internal security of the House.

The documents show that the contracts for meat supply for the two ministries for the current and next fiscal years (2021 and 2022) were estimated at over 3,000,990,000 Afs ($38 million).

“It has opened the way for more corruption and for organized corruption,” said Ali Akbar Jamshidi, a member of the defense committee of the Wolesi Jirga.

The business community said awarding contracts in absence of a bidding process violates the constitution’s articles about the free market and also affects the private sector.

“This act is against the law and we hope that the Constitution is considered and contracts are awarded through free competition,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, the deputy head of the Afghanistan chambers federation.

The federation said that the government has also established the operational unit and the fuel and gas administration through which contracts are awarded to government-owned enterprises.

“The authority and capacity should have been built into government institutions and in provinces, but we see the opposite process with (high level govt) focusing on procurement,” said Nasir Taimuri, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

A defense attorney for meat supply contractors said the slaughterhouse enterprise does not have the capacity to supply meat to the two major ministries.

“The difference that exists can show that the meat is purchased from a third source and is supplied to the ministries of interior affairs and defense. This in fact makes it clear that personal interests are involved in this,” said Rohullah Sakhizad, a defense attorney for meat suppliers.

TOLOnews could not get access to the slaughterhouse, but the policy and strategy directorate of the Presidential Palace sent some photos and documents and said that the meat price for the Defense Ministry was estimated higher in previous contracts compared to the new prices proposed by the slaughterhouse.

“The contracts are assessed to determine how fairly they have been done,” said Dawa Khan Menapal, a presidential spokesman.

According to information provided by the defense committee of the Wolesi Jirga, the government enterprise has estimated 457 Afs ($5.9) for each kilogram of mutton and 390 Afs ($5) for beef but private contractors said they can propose 350 Afs ($4.5) for each kilogram of mutton and 300 Afs ($3.8) for one kilogram of beef.