Founding president of mPedigree Bright Simons, has identified massive over-pricing in the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) project to automate its systems which ended up costing contributors more than $72m.
The award-winning social innovator said several procurement items were inflated when simple checks on the internet could have revealed their actual price.
He said an IBM hardware sold on the market for $16,000 was bought for more than $500,000.
“They want us to believe they bought it for more 500,000 dollars. Are you crazy? We don’t lie about stuff like that…it is a catalogue matter,” he expressed shock.
Ghanaians are demanding answers on how SSNIT used pension contributions to fund an OBS suite which began at a contract sum of $34m but eventually ended up ballooning to $72m.
Even after the huge expense made from 2012 to 2016, the project has failed to function properly as was anticipated.
To begin with, SSNIT procured an ICT system used to manage provident funds not pensions and therefore needed to tweak it to suit the needs of the Trust.
This situation led to several more procurements which led to over-pricing of the items.
The revelations have raised the possibility of criminal prosecutions with a lawyer suggesting person indicted in the saga are fine candidates for causing financial loss to the state.
Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has also queried at least 15 staff while the SSNIT Director-General at the time Ernest Thompson defends his decisions.
Discussing the contract on Joy FM Super Morning Show Monday, Bright Simons suggested Ghanaians have a right to be angry because the public has been ripped off in the deals.
Referring to terms of the tender bid, he said the contract sum was not to be varied beyond 14%. It ended up being varied by about 100%
He explained SSNIT painted a picture of an ICT project that required some rarefied technical components and expertise when they were simply ordinary.
“A lot of the challenge …is that even though some of the items are perfectly mundane, they are being priced as if some specialist skills were needed,” he said.
Bright Simons said SSNIT’s request to the project execution companies, Perfect Business Solutions and Silverlake Consortium was needless because it could have gotten all that it needed by dealing directly with the manufacturer in Malaysia or simply buying online.
“Anybody can go online, go to the producer’s website and check the prices so you don’t need a system integrator with some specialist skills. There is no procurement speciality in this thing”.
Bright Simons also faulted the technical ability of the company selected for the project to integrate systems at SSNIT.
“Which of them had the experience to be system integrators,” he asked and explained Silverlake deals in insurance management systems or provident fund management solutions.
Bright Simons believes the contract could have been done by seven other companies, each supplying a service based on their speciality.
“We had a situation where people who are not very good at system integration taking a contract, even though designed as a system integration contract, is packaged as software development contract.
“And they are going around with sub-contractors and padding the cost,”h e explained.