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Panel endorses Smartmatic as winning supplier for 2010 poll automation

MANILA, Philippines — While noting that the consortium of Smartmatic and Total Information Management System’s has failed to submit one important requirement, the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) Special Bids and Awards Committee has officially endorsed the group as winning supplier of automated machines for the 2010 polls. On June 3, the committee endorsed Smartmatic’s bid to the Comelec’s full bench, which will then decide whether or not to approve the bid result. Six other consortiums of local and foreign groups were eliminated in the bidding for the P11.3 billion poll automation contract. Smartmatic entered a bid price of P7.2 billion for the poll automation project, which is P4 billion lower than the ceiling price of the poll body. Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the poll body hopes to award the contract next week. In its report, the committee admitted that Smartmatic had failed to show “a copy of its single largest contract on the ground that is has a non-disclosure agreement with the election body of Venezuela [government]." Nonetheless, it said the consortium submitted a duly authenticated certification from the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) of the Venezuelan government indicating the amount of the contract as US$141,356,604.54 (equivalent to P6,345,502,017.90), well above the eligibility requirement of at least 50 percent of the approved budget for the contract. The certification issued by the CNE also contain the name of the vendor, which is Smartmatic Group, the name of procuring entity- the CNE, the period of the contract which took place last June 1, 2008 to February 2009 as well as the description of the goods and services, voting machines, and supplies for the elections in Venezeula. Cleared of irregularities The committee cleared the consortium of other accusations raised against its compliance and corporate capability, particularly such issues involving Jarltech International of Taiwan which manufacture the precinct count optical scanners (PCOS) and the issue against the Dominion Voting Company of Canada, which alleged to be the owner of the PCOS technology. “During the post qualification proceedings, we received a letter from the president of Jarltech International in response to our query, to the effect that Smartmatic owns the majority of the shareholdings of Jarltech, therefore it is truly a subsidiary," said the committee report. On the Dominion Voting issue, it said the bid documents submitted show that there is a licensing agreement between Dominion and Smartmatic. Smartmatic was also accused of planning to subcontract the manufacturing of the PCOS to Kenmec Mechanical Engineering Company because it is not really capable of producing the machines. But the SBAC said: “Upon verification, we found that said contract is denominated as “outsourcing manufacturing contract" and it has been argued that it is not a subcontract but a modern way of doing business." Smartmatic has already explained that to enable them to produce the 82,000 machines they need a large space to do it and this large facility is owned by Kenmec, it said. “Smartmatic through the Smartmatic Subsidiary has an outsourcing contract dated March 5, 2008 (the outsourcing contract) with Kenmec for the provision of space in Kenmec facility," said the recommendation. “For the information of the honorable SBAC, Kenmec is not a subcontractor, Kenmec will only be providing the space where Smartmatic through the Smartmatic subsidiary will assemble the PCOS voting machines," the SBAC recommendation quoting the motion for reconsideration of Smartmatic. - GMANews.TV