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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Minister Defends Samoa Government Tender Process
Local and Chinese companies bidding for Fugalei Market work

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 5, 2013) – Samoa Minister of Finance Faumuina Tiatia Liuga has defended the Government’s tender process against claims that foreign companies are undermining it through the submission of "cheap tenders" to fend off competition from local companies.

"There is no point of agreeing on the lowest price that compromises the quality of the building," he said.

The claims have surfaced as 11 companies – including three Chinese companies – are vying for the multi-million-tala contract to build the Fugalei Market.

According to well-informed sources within the construction industry, of all the companies who have submitted tenders, two of the cheapest tenders are from Chinese companies.

Whereas one has submitted a tender of WST$15 million [US$6.4 million], the second cheapest is WST$17 million [US$7.2 million].

The cheapest tender from a local company is just over WST$30 million [US$12.7 million].

Asked for a comment, the Minister dismissed the notion that the contract is likely to be awarded to a Chinese company simply because their price is the cheapest.

"I don’t know where that information came from but I can’t comment on speculations," said Faumuina. "I haven’t looked into the tenders since it was opened."

The tenders were opened in November last year. As of yesterday, it could not be ascertained when the winner is likely to be announced.

But the Minister assured that all the tenders are being evaluated. He said the cost of the project – as it has been advertised - is from WST$15 million to WST$40 million [US$16.9 million].

"There are about eleven companies that submitted bids and are being evaluated by the Evaluation committee," he said. "The Tenders Board is yet to receive the report from the committee so I don’t have details of it.

"There are several companies from overseas joint venture with local companies that bid and about three Chinese contractors that showed interest."

The Minister said some local companies bidding for the project are in partnership with outside companies.

Faumuina said the Tenders Board will assess all the bids and the lowest bidder will not always be the one to win the tender.

"There is no point of agreeing on the lowest price that compromises the quality of the building," he said.

The new two-story market will be elevated by up to a meter to address the issue of flooding at Fugalei.

The ground floor will be used for crops and agriculture produce and a section for restaurants and kitchens and the top floor for handicrafts and flea market.

There will be stairways and elevators convenient access. It will have two traffic exits with defined bus depots, taxi standards and public parking.

The project is expected to be completed by August this year. The winning design for the new facility was submitted by Tinai, Gordon and Associates.

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