Tista taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
The procurement process led by the government to choose a supplier for a long-awaited waste incinerator has come under fire again, this time by FCC Medioambiente International – another multinational bidder in the procurement process.
Through an official reply submitted to the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB), the company with a proven track record in similar projects across Europe accused the government of conducting a “superficial evaluation” and breaking the rules.
Upping the pressure on the government, the FCC claimed that the government’s choice – a consortium involving French Paprec and Maltese contractors Bonnici Brothers – is not feasible.
FCC said that based on its own experience in similar projects, “it considers it impossible that a solution which complies with the stringent requirements of the tender document, and even more so, obtains 98 of the technical weight, can be implemented for a price of €599,695,900.”
According to FCC, the ‘selected’ Paprec-Bonnici bid is “abnormally low”, and an investigation should be carried out for their possible disqualification.
FCC’s objection is the second to be filed against the government about what is the largest tender issued during this legislature.
Last week, following the government’s announcement of its preliminary decision recommending the award to Paprec-Bonnici, the second classified bidder, multinational Hitachi Zosen Inova AG – Terna SA objected.
The Japanese multinational claimed that the government had “irregularly published the ‘non-binding’ financial offers by some of the bidders” during the ongoing process, “an irregularity, which has the effect of distorting competition and preventing a fair process.”
As claimed by FCC, Hitachi insisted it was impossible for Paprec-Bonnici to “sustain such a price” if they were to deliver the technology in the tender.
Both the Department and Contracts and Wasteserv dismissed the claims.
While hiring Malta’s most prominent legal firms, the government insists that all was done above board and according to international standards.
Eyebrows raised from the start
The €600 million tender has been controversial from the start.
While the participation of Bonnici Brothers, a local contractor with no experience whatsoever in the waste-to-energy industry but close to Prime Minister Robert Abela, immediately raised eyebrows among industry leaders.
The ‘mistake’ of publishing the prices indicated by competitors prematurely, against the rules, let the cat out of the bag at a crucial time when the bidders were supposed to be competing through a best and final offer at the last remaining stage of the competition.
While at that stage, the Department of Contracts was advised to stop the process to avoid future legal problems, the OPM insisted on awarding the lucrative tender to Paprec-Bonnici Brothers.
The Shift has extensively reported the proximity between the Bonnici Group and the prime minister.
Apart from the fact that Abela used to handle Bonnici Group’s legal matters when in private practice, at the same time as acting as legal counsel for the Planning Authority, he also carried out personal business with Gilbert Bonnici, the managing director of the group.
With his wife Lydia, he invested in a property in Iklin then turned into flats.
Abela’s partners were Gilbert Bonnici and Simon Buhagiar from Zabbar, known as Simon tal-Gass and a business associate of Gilbert Bonnici.
The Public Contracts Review Board will now decide on the objections filed on this tender. Its members are all appointed by the government.
However, the PCRB decision can still be contested and decided by the Court of Appeal if the objectors decide to pursue the issue.
On several occasions during the past years, the Court eventually revoked the decision taken by the PCRB.