The Control Yuan yesterday approved censure measures against Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) on charges of rigging the bid for a NT$120 million (US$4.1 million) maintenance and repair project for its Hsinta Power Station in Greater Kaohsiung.
In its report, the Control Yuan said that five companies were involved in the bidding process, but only one of them submitted a priced bid. This led to suspicions of bid collusion, which would be in clear violation of the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), and the recommendation that the officials responsible be impeached.
Control Yuan members Lin Chu-lang (林鉅鋃), Yang Mei-ling (楊美玲) and Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) led the investigation. They said that Taipower officials only relied on visual inspection and photographs to determine the level of corrosion on the steel frames before they rushed to issue an invitation to tender for maintenance and repair of the power station’s smoke stack and emissions facilities.
The report added that the upper limit for approved tender projects set by Hsinta Power Station is NT$125 million. With only a NT$5 million difference, the Control Yuan said it was obvious that setting the price of the bid at NT$120 million was done to avoid scrutiny from the authorities.
Hsinta announced its invitation to bid for the project in 2010 and five contracting companies entered bids in the preliminary round, the report said. Only two contractors were engaged in the second round of bidding, with just one tendering a priced bid in the final stage.
According to the Government Procurement Act and the Public Construction Commission’s interpretation of the act, Taipower should have stopped the tendering process due to there being only one bidder.
However, the report said Hsinta went ahead with the bidding and awarded the project to the sole bidder. The suspicious circumstances of the bidding led to the case being investigated by the public prosecutors’ office, who found Taipower officials negligent.
Control Yuan members added that after the tender process was concluded, the contract was amended twice to add NT$9 million to the project’s price tag. This questionable practice was suspected to have been used to raise the price fraudulently so as to gain higher commissions and also showed that the agencies responsible had not done a proper job of supervising the bidding.
Concluding that their findings indicated violations of the law, the Control Yuan approved the censure and demanded Taipower to undergo a review and make changes.