The Construction Development Board (CDB) suspended three construction companies for two years.
The suspension was announced through an order yesterday, which stated that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recommended it.
It was learnt that the three companies, M/S Chimmi RD Construction with CDB number 5455 and trade license number 1026955, M/S Phuntsho Rabten Construction with CDB number 1836 and trade licence number 6004418, and M/S Sonam Jamtsho and Bros Construction with CDB number 3248 and trade licence number 1019647, colluded while bidding for base course and blacktopping of Jarey gewog connectivity road in 2015.
ACC conducted an investigation after the Royal Audit Authority wrote to the commission, pointing out possible collusion amongst the bidders and causing a financial loss of more than Nu 11.77M to the government.
ACC found that the Department of Road’s regional office in Lingmethang invited bidders to bid for the work in August 2015.
Four contractors participated in the bid and M/M Chimmi RD Construction quoted the lowest, but the work was awarded to the fourth construction company, M/S Diamond Construction, as arithmetical corrections made it the lowest bidder.
The investigation revealed that rates for all the bill of quantities (BoQ) items, except for Diamond Construction, were rather overwritten, inserted with additional digits or showing marks of striking off and re-writing.
It also revealed that the proprietor of Sonam Jamtsho and Bros Construction, Sonam Jamtsho, not only changed his bid amount but also for the other two construction companies.
“The other two contractors were aware of the alterations of Sonam Jamtsho, indicating their bids were staged and not independently quoted,” a source stated. “It’s evident that the motive of the scheme was to ensure Sonam Jamtsho gets the work at an escalated bid of Nu 50.7M, although his initial bid amount was Nu 36.8M.”
ACC, after its investigation, concluded that there was an attempt to bid-rigging, which could have otherwise defrauded the state.
The commission stated that it was disturbing to note that contractors still seem to be taking collusive bidding casually undermining the very principle of a competitive process in public procurement.
ACC stated it recommended the suspension of construction companies for their unethical conduct to deter or discourage other contractors from executing similar malpractices.