SPB hits back at Biti

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The State Procurement Board (SPB) has hit back at Finance minister Tendai Biti for claiming the board was awarding bids to undeserving contractors and willfully delaying developmental projects.

Biti last week told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion contracts were being awarded to companies that had no capacity to carry out the projects.

However SPB executive chairman Charles Kuwaza yesterday said: At last Thursdays board meeting, members could not find appropriate words to ascribe to the brutality of this attack.

Kuwaza said they have advised government to carry out projects that it has capacity to fund. He said despite their advice they have since been approached for a new project in Victoria Falls as part of preparations of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly next year with no indication of where the funds would come from.

The board is also aware that hundreds of projects, some more than 14 years old, including Central Registry offices in districts and elsewhere, had not been completed due to lack of resources, Kuwaza said.

Many are at window level and deteriorating fast. We can also point at the Harare-Norton or Harare-Masvingo dualisation road projects.

Can any reasonable man put these problems at the doorstep of the State Procurement Board?
Turning to the awarding of a contract to Eleco which Biti said was blacklisted on allegations of fraud to repair elevators at Kaguvi Building in Harare, Kuwaza said there was never a time when the company was outlawed.

At no time did the board even consider barring or blacklisting Eleco because no such case was made. The claim that government blacklisted the company is, therefore, not true. Conversely, the person making this claim must adduce evidence of such blacklisting, he said.

He said the SPB could not be blamed for the Kunzvi Dams failure to take off after the contract was awarded to Locan Holdings.

We cannot comment on why snakes have taken charge there. As a parting shot, the board takes its responsibilities extremely serious. The board is a firewall against corruption and abuse of public positions, Kuwaza added.