11 bid rigging cases before CA since inception
A total of eleven cases on bid-rigging have been handled by the Competition Authority. Of these, one has been referred to the Competition Commission; four have been closed, while six are still under investigation. Some of the cases were closed as investigations revealed that there were no competition concerns.
This was revealed to a Gazette Business inquiry on the status of bid rigging cases in Botswana, by CA’s Director of Legal and Enforcement Duncan Morotsi following the bid rigging workshop for parastatals last week.
Morotsi revealed that, the majority of bid-rigging cases involve the use of multiple directorships in companies to submit bids for the same products resulting in cover bidding.
“Other cases involved market allocation and bid suppression. Cases investigated included allegations of bid-rigging in Government Tenders for the supply of tools to the Hukuntsi Sub-District Council. Companies owned by the same person were used to tender for the supply of portable cabins to the Central Transport Organisation and supply of Government food rations to Government institutions,” Morotsi said.
Morotsi gave assurances that CA continues to capacitate evaluation committees and procurement units at both the Local and Central Government level as well as in Parastatals to detect bid-rigging. Through this initiative, a number of cases have been reported from such committees, he said.
Concerns were raised over the effectiveness of evaluation committees as they appeared to be junior to adjudication committees which results in a lot of decisions getting overruled. It was also gathered from the workshop that often the evaluation committees in the procuring entities run the cartels.
Morotsi stressed the importance of doing a market inquiry on the product they want to procure prior to issuing out a tender to avoid bid rigging. “Establish who is handling the product you are buying, know and appreciate the quality of the product, as well as the price,” he said.
Godknows Simon, a representative from DCEC said cartels were well organised and are through in gathering intelligence. “Some tender for the sake of attending the opening, so they know who bid and won the tender. If you have suspicions about this sort of practice, do not take it lightly report immediately” he said.
Simon expressed concern that DCEC often fail to connect information they get from tips because it is passed to them incomplete.