According to well-placed sources within officialdom, the AfDB, which since provided the huge fund, will retrieve the money once the time it gave for the usage of the fund expires. Established in 1964, the AfDB is the premier pan-African development institution, promoting economic growth and social progress across the continent. The Bank’s development agenda is delivering the financial and technical support for transformative projects that will significantly reduce poverty through inclusive and sustainable economic growth, while the MoA in Liberia is responsible for the oversight of agronomy, animal husbandry and other agriculture industries, the economic organization of the agriculture and food industries, and national food security..
It can be recalled that sometimes ago, the AfDB, with support from the Global Agriculture Food and Security Program (GAFSP), entered into a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)with the GoL , which the Bank provided a US$54.6 Million through project intended to reduce poverty in the country. The project, which was under the title: “SAPEC Project”, was intended to last for five years when it was ratified by the Liberian Legislature in 2011.Two years after the ratification by the Liberian Legislature, the program finally started in 2013. Barely a year into the project, Liberia got hit by the deadly Ebola outbreak, thus affected the project.The program, which should have ended in 2018, had to be extended by the AfDB to June 29, 2020 due to delay because of the Ebola outbreak.
The MoA was required to use the AfDB guidelines and procedures in spending the money. Within the US$54.6 Million, there was an unallocated amount of US$3.5 Million and an undisbursed amount of US$ 5.5Million intended to pay contractors companies working to rehabilitate feeder roads, the construction of vertical structures such as markets and technological transfer centers among others.For the use of the US$3.5 Million unallocated fund, the MoA under the supervision of former Minister Agriculture Minister, Dr. MoganaFlomo, Jr. decided to identify equipment that will be used for mechanized farming for local farmers.In doing that, a tendering process was launched for companies to apply for the bid for the procurement of mechanized equipment for farmers in the country. About forty (40) companies participated in the process with three companies being shortlisted by the Ministry. The shortlisted companies were: New Holland / Cape Automotive Solution from South Africa, AtesporMotorluAraclar and Beever Company.New Holland and Cape Automotive Solution from South Africa did a joint bid during the process.
As a matter of policy, the tender process was overseen by the AfDB Country Representative’s office in Liberia.In line with policy, the AfDB, in an official communication, said it was pleased with the process and had given “No Objection” for the finalization of the procurement process. The letter of “No objection” from the Bank means the tender process has been certified – suggesting that the most suitable out of the three shortlisted companies should be awarded the contract to supply. But upon taken over as the Agriculture Minister, Madam Jeanine Cooper, “unilaterally” cancelled the completed tender for which she constituted an evaluation committee and selection of the most suitable vendor was said to have been made and the report submitted to her. The pronouncement for the cancellation was published in the Frontpage Africa April 12, 2020 edition.Though the Bank had issued a no objection clearance for the MoA to go ahead with the completion of the tendering process, Minister Cooper in total disregard to the Bank procurement standard cancelled the process.
However, the MoA, in a press statement issued in Monrovia, announced the cancelation of the bidding process for heavy duty tractors and other agricultural equipment, but on the contrary, solicited quotations through a sole sourcing arrangement with New Holland Agriculture Company of Mr. Robert to procure the very heavy duty tractors’ specification she dismissed.The new Agriculture Minister had earlier justified that she cancelled the bid on ground that she wanted to rationalize spending of donor fund.The Minister , in her press statement, also requested a new bid that seeks to include an expanded list of equipment better suited to Liberia’s climate and topography; more aligned to farmers’ needs and for smaller farm sizes and rationalized with agricultural assets already on ground.
But our investigation, which was backed by cogent documents and independent multiple sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, divulged that the New Holland has had no experience in such magnitude or procurement and does not have the capacity to conform to post procurement requirements, and therefore, was previously disqualified. It was gathered that the New Holland Agriculture Company is owned by Minister Cooper’s good friend, Mr. Robert Tubman, Jr.