Public contracts board set to decide on contested cleaning contracts worth over €11 million

The Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB) is currently evaluating an appeal over contracts worth a total of €11.3 million, with the complainant – All Clean Services Ltd – alleging that its bid was evaluated as inferior on the basis of a technical question that was ‘not permitted’.

The dispute is over four of 12 lots that make up the tender for ‘the provision of environmentally friendly cleaning services (including summer) in State schools and educational facilities in Malta and Gozo’.

The four lots being disputed refer to St Therese College, St Gorg Preca College, Maria Regina College and St Claire College. The contract for the provision of cleaning services in these four institutions amounts to €11.3 million.

General Cleaners Co. Ltd, was awarded all 12 lots, meaning it is set to rake in a grand total of €25.2 million for the requested services should the appeal filed by the complainant (All Clean Services Ltd) be rejected by the PCRB.

A list showing the lots and the values for each one.

All Clean Services Ltd’s complaint is largely based on the fact that the Department of Contracts adjudicated the bid filed by General Cleaners Co. Ltd as superior due to the latter having a collective agreement in place, which is not the case for the complainant.

While the complainant company’s lawyers argued that it made the most economically advantageous offer and that the “add-on requirement” of the collective agreement was not permissable, the Department of Contracts argued that both the government and the EU’s good practice recommendations insist on prioritising operators with such collective agreements in place.

All Clean Services Ltd is owned by Frank Schembri and Roberta Farrugia Schembri, while General Cleaners Co. Ltd is owned by Raymond Fenech.

Given that the dispute is still ongoing, the Department of Contracts issued a negotiated procedure for the same services to the consortium previously provided those services, Brightness JV. The negotiated procedure contract is worth a total of €4.6 million.

“The recommendation for award (of the total 12 lots mentioned above) was appealed and is being heard by the Public Contracts Review Board,” a spokesperson told The Shift.

“In order to ensure continuity of the essential (cleaning) service in State schools a negotiated procedure was resorted to as per public procurement regulations,” he added.

Brightness JV is a consortium led by Specialist Group Cleaners Ltd, a company owned by Wilson Mifsud, the cousin of the Labour Party’s Secretary William Lewis, and one of the members of the family that owns Construct Furniture, Valerio Camilleri.

In November 2021, The Times of Malta reported that the consortium was embroiled in a public procurement spat with another cleaning company named Managing Consulting Service Industry Ltd in an appeal that was later rejected by the PCRB. The complainant then had sought (and failed) to nullify an extension of the €2.46 million contract awarded to Brightness JV in 2019 for the cleaning of all public schools for two years, arguing that the education ministry could not justify extending it without reopening the call to other companies besides Brightness JV.

                           
                               
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