Pressure mounts for SFFRFM to sign AIP contracts
By Deogratias Mmana
The Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) has up to February 15, 2023 to offer 30 companies contracts to supply fertiliser under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
SFFRFM cancelled the contracts last year.
The restoration of the contracts follows recommendations made by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) Review Committee after meeting the companies and SFFRFM on January 18, 2023 in Lilongwe.
The companies had dragged PPDA to court for failing to review the decision of SFFRFM to cancel their contracts after the Authority had already published a notice of interest to award them the contracts.
While the matter was in court, PPDA later came up with a Review Committee to hear the companies’ complaints.
According to the committee’s decision made on January 19, 2023 signed by chairperson Norah Nsanja and members Greshom Sichinga and Robert Phiri, SFFRFM made a commitment to sign contracts with those bidders it would have successfully concluded negotiations with by February 15, 2023.
Based on the commitments made by the SFFRFM, the companies also said they had withdrawn their application for administrative review.
They committed to proceed with the planned negotiations aimed at finalising the procurement process for the fertiliser.
The review committee advise SFFRFM to honour the commitment it made to undertake necessary procedures for the successful completion of the procurement proceedings to be undertaken after publishing an Intention to Award Notice.
The committee ordered SFFRFM not to sign a contract for the supply and delivery of the fertiliser with other than the companies in question.
Further, SFFRFM was ordered to compensate the companies for loss of profits if it will not offer the contracts.
On the cancelled advert, SFFRFM said the advert was a draft which it had prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture for comment and that it never received the reviewed copy of the draft cancellation advert from the Ministry.
SFFRFM further said that its Internal Procurement Disposal Committee never approved the cancelled advert, adding “in view of the foregoing, the procurement proceedings are still in progress.”
Lawyer for the companies, Wapona Kita, said in an interview that the companies will take an unspecified action if SFFRFM does not sign the contracts by February 15, 2023.
“We expect SFFRFM to engage our clients to enter into contract negotiations as undertaken by them at the review meeting. If they do not do so by the 15th of February, 2023, as undertaken, then we are taking measures against SFFRFM which I cannot disclose for now,” he said.
SFFRFM Chief Executive Officer Richard Chikunkhuzeni Friday said he needed more time to check with officials from his company as he had been away.
Last year, the companies applied to court for judicial review of the failure by the PPDA to act on their application over the cancellation of the contracts by SFFRFM.