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Uganda: 2021 Elections – Ballot Papers Caught in Procurement Puzzle

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) has said the forthcoming general election might be affected by the delays in the procurement of a firm to print ballot papers.

Last week, PPDA stopped the Electoral Commission (EC) from continuing with the process of awarding tenders to seven foreign companies that include Tall Security Printers (UK), Uniprint (South Africa), United Printing and Publishing (UAE), Adare Sec Ltd (UK), and Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company (Dubai) to print ballot papers following a petition from the local bidders.

The petitioners through their umbrella body, Uganda Printers and Publication Association (UPPA) say the process of awarding tenders contravened the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy, which was introduced in 2014 to foster the growth of local content products and skills.

They also claimed that the prices of printing ballot papers were inflated by EC, creating an unfair competition for local firms.

“There are two local companies (Picfare Industries Limited and Inline Printing Services), that have asked for an administrative review of the tender to print ballot papers, which is likely to take 10 days or so,” Mr Benson Turamye, the executive director of PPDA, told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday.

According to the EC roadmap, the election will take place between January 8 and February 10 and procurement of electoral materials is estimated to cost Shs200 billion.

Mr Turamye, further explained that the national procurement body had promised to avail a report from the investigations, not later than next week.

In case the petitioners are not satisfied with the administrative review, they can, under the law, petition PPDA for an investigation in a maximum of 21 days.

“And if that fails too, the matter is then forwarded to the PPDA tribunal, which takes the final decision in not more than 10 days,” he added.