Hospital tender awarded to Italian firm - 1/1/2004

From The Times

Hospital tender awarded to Italian firm... again
Mark Wood

The government has awarded the contract for the supply of the Mater Dei Hospital's medical equipment to the Italian firm INSO SpA, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs said yesterday.

An appeals tribunal had in early November annulled a decision by the director general of contracts to award the Lm25 million contract to INSO.

The tribunal had offered Dutch company Simed International the opportunity to clarify aspects of its bid in order to satisfy certain conditions of the tender documents, but had not ruled Inso out of the running.

The appeal had been filed by Simed and another competing company, Hospitalia GmBH, which was however disqualified by the tribunal.

In the latest decision, the contracts committee found INSO's offer to be technically and financially better than Simed's, the ministry said yesterday, adding that INSO had been informed of the decision last Friday.

The ministry said that following the tribunal's decision, the Foundation for Medical Services, which is in charge of the hospital project, had immediately asked Simed to submit its clarifications.

The FMS also appointed an advisory board, chaired by Judge Victor Caruana Colombo, to scrutinise this phase of the adjudication process.

The board in turn appointed Grant Thornton Consulting Ltd as financial experts, Muscat Azzopardi & Associates as legal experts and Secta as technical experts. The three appointees studied Simed's offer and clarifications.

After seeing their reports, the advisory board reached the conclusion that Simed had not submitted sufficient clarifications regarding the equipment and the aspects on which the firm was not in conformity with the conditions of the tender documents.

The FMS agreed with the board and passed the same conclusion on to the contracts committee, while advising that further delay in awarding the contract would mean more delays and increased costs in the hospital project.

The contracts committee, the ministry said, took the following factors into consideration when deciding to recommend that the government accepts INSO's bid:

1. That according to the FMS it was not in the public interest to further delay awarding the contract.

2. That the Hospitalia offer had been disqualified.

3. That in the new evaluation, Simed's offer had been found to be technically inferior to INSO's.

4. That INSO's offer was 10 million cheaper than the other two bids.

5. That INSO's offer had not been disqualified by the tribunal.

6. That technical experts Secta, in their October 3, 2002 report, had declared INSO's bid to be of an acceptable level.

In February of last year, five companies submitted their tenders for the supply of the new hospital's medical equipment, with INSO's, valued at 64.8 million, the cheapest.

In May of that year, the FMS had recommended that the director of contracts award the contract to Hospitalia. A technical report had said INSO's tender was difficult to evaluate due to the number of instances of lack of technical information and that many of the items offered were of dubious quality.

However, the following December, the director of contracts announced his intention to award the contract to INSO - a decision appealed by Simed and Hospitalia.

The proceedings have seriously affected the pace of work on the new hospital as the contractors have been waiting for the specifications of the medical equipment.

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