A contract signed by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) at the end of last month on development of a new data management system, called the Real Time Data Management System, aimed at bringing transparency in telecom services tax collection, has faced criticism for not being “realistic” and “clear”.
The contract which values $11.1 million was signed at the Presidential Palace on February 28 between Communication and Information Technology Minister Shahzad Aryubi and representative of Bustos Group, an American company.
Farshid Ghyasi, head of Afghanistan IT Companies Association (AITCA) based in Kabul, in an article obtained by TOLOnews, writes that the company awarded the contract lacks the required skills and experience to implement the project.
He says the company got its US business license a day after the contract was awarded.
Ghyasi says in the article that in 2018, the NPA released an expression of interest and only four companies submitted their interest and were shortlisted for the RFP round and were invited to bid for the project:
Arraxxee SAS Paris (lead) In association with Paradigm Capital and My ICT (Sub-Consultant), a local IT company (a France-based company)
Vanrise Solutions S.A.L Lebanon (a Lebanon-based company)
PT Astra Graphia Information Technology (AGIT) (an Indonesia-based company)
Prologix LLC (lead) in association with Subex (a UAE-based company)
He writes that sources say that the National Procurement Authority evaluated technical proposal of the abovementioned companies but before evaluating their financial proposals, the tender was canceled for unknown reasons.
According to him, it is said that LATRO Services who is in the business of SIM card fraud detection is the sub-contractor for this project is expected to do all the job.
“They are currently working with GSM operators in Afghanistan such as Roshan, AWCC and others in the area of SIM fraud detection or more simply SIM Box detections in Afghanistan,” he writes.
However, the MCIT officials said the contract was put on bidding, but the National Procurement Authority (NPA) proposed the American companies as the only source to implement the project.
MCIT spokesman Saaez Zaland said it is the responsibility of the NPA to assess the contract.
“Based on the NPA decision, the 168 session has been decided that former procurement process was canceled and a single source contract should be signed with an American company,” he said.
He said the reason of a 30 percent increase on cost of Real Time project is due to merging of extra projects on the contract.
“We will announce the amount of money the day the contract was signed,” Shahzad Gul Aryubi, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, told TOLOnews last month.
Meanwhile, an official from the Integrity Watch Afghanistan said there are deliberate attempts aimed at hindering transparency in the process of collection of telecommunications taxes.
“Our assessments indicate that Bustos Company does not have the ability to implement this system,” said IWA researcher Naser Taimuri. “There are some motives inside and outside government which obstruct the system to be implemented soon.”