Interrogate officials of PPA over $72m SSNIT software – expert

Insurance expert, Edgar Wiredu, wants officials of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) invited for interrogation on their role in the procurement of the controversial 72 million-dollar ICT equipment by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

SSNIT in 2012 procured ICT infrastructure including software to automate its offices across the country at the cost a 32million dollars but the contract sum shot up to 66 million dollars and by 2016 it had reached 72 million dollars.

The ICT infrastructure was intended to enhance efficiency but the current board of SSNIT has questioned the cost and has contracted Pricewaterhouse Coopers to audit the public pension Trust.

Speaking to on 3FM’S Sunrise Morning show Thursday, Mr Wiredu said the Procurement Authority did not do due diligence in the whole transaction, hence should be invited for questioning.

“SSNIT went ahead with the purchase after they got approval from the Public Procurement Authority [PPA]. So if we now have problems with the system, then the PPA should also be questioned. They didn’t do enough due diligence”, he stressed

Price variations

A former director general of SSNIT, Ernest Thompson, explained the earlier quoted amount was not up to 66 million dollars.

“I don’t really remember the figure, but it was not twenty million or 66 million [dollars], the contract allowed for variations and all these variations went back to the regulatory authority; that is the Public Procurement Authority for approval” he explained

He insisted the ICT infrastructure could not have been purchased at a cheaper rate as is being claimed by some critics, pointing out that the system is a complete suite that provided all the needed technology to run SSNIT.

The suite includes a contribution module, a benefit module, registration module, a compliance module, relationship channel module, and a business intelligence unit.

“The modules are software by themselves. We are talking about national security and we need a mighty system for it.

It is something that we did and we have received commendations from other agencies. We couldn’t have gotten it at a cheaper rate” he argued.

Contract legally approved

Mr Thompson however denied allegations that transactions for the acquisition of the ICT infrastructure to improve operations of SSNIT didn’t go through due process.

He said a consultancy was appointed to evaluate the selected companies after a tendering process.

“Three Malaysian companies were selected after the work of the consultancy. The main vendors went through international competitive tendering and the procurement regulatory authority duly approved the deal according to law” he said.

He stated that the system was procured at a time when the institution was battling with technological challenges.

Calls for probe

Meanwhile, labour expert, Senyo Adjabeng, is calling for the issue to be investigated.

“We are not saying SSNIT should not procure systems, but we need a lot more of stakeholder consultation on this. At the end of the day, it is the tax payers money and peoples pensions funds that are used”, he stressed.

The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) have also joined in the call for investigations into the matter.

Grace Asare|3FM||Ghana

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