ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) has cancelled the bidding process for hiring of a firm to hold the Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT).

The move comes after criticism by stakeholders and filing of a case by them in Lahore High Court (LHC) that a “tailor-made” tender had been floated for the hiring of the same company which conducted MDCAT as a joint venture in 2021.

A PMC letter to SOAR Testing and Evaluation Platform (SMC-private) Limited (TEPS), available with Dawn, stated: “Thank you for submitting your bid in reply to our tender titled Procurement of computer based examination services including operational system. It is to inform that the competent authority of PMC has decided to cancel the bidding process of the tender as per clause 2.6.23 of tender document which states that the purchaser reserves the right to accept or reject any bid or to annual the bidding process and reject all bids at any time prior to contract award, without thereby incurring any liability to the bidders. You are, therefore, requested to collect your bidding document and bid’s security from PMC Secretariat Islamabad as and when you wish to do so.”

It may be noted that PMC had entered into a 10-year joint venture with TEPS under which each student appearing in MDCAT would be charged Rs6,000 out of which Rs3,500 would go to the company and the remaining Rs2,500 to PMC.

The firm conducted the MDCAT tests at over 20 centres across the country and at five locations abroad in September last year in which around 200,000 students took part. The tests continued for one month.

However, stakeholders criticised the agreement and approached LHC, alleging that the firm was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) after the date of filing of the bids for the tests and also lacked an NTN number. PMC cancelled the 10-year agreement with the company and submitted it to the LHC.

Later, a new tender was floated calling on companies to file technical and financial proposal bids by Dec 9, 2021, and stating that the company will get 100pc share of the fee. However, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and other stakeholders termed the new tender a “tailor-made” as only the same company would be able to meet the requirements and conditions.

According to the tender document, the duration of the contract had to be initially for five years and extendable for another five years.

In order to qualify, the bidders must achieve a minimum of 70 per cent score in technical evaluation and marks below 50pc in any of the six categories will disqualify the bidder.

It stated that the company should have conducted a computer-based exam locally at more than 20 locations and internationally at over five locations simultaneously within a period of 30 days. Only two marks will be awarded to bidders who held exams of 10,000 students and 15 marks to firms that conducted a test of 150,000 students.

Because of the tender, some of the stakeholders again moved LHC, alleging that the “tailor-made” tender was floated to award the contract to the same company.

Last month, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Health at a meeting chaired by MNA Khalid Hussain Magsi expressed annoyance over the absence of both the PMC president and vice president from the session.

The members refused to get a briefing from PMC’s member examination retired Brig Nasir Rafique and warned of moving a privilege motion against the PMC president and the vice president.

PMC was contacted by Dawn for comments on the cancellation of the tender but received no reply till filing of this report.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2022

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