Edgar Brandt Windhoek-While full authority was granted by the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development (MITSMED) to the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) for the N$18 million purchase of a property in Windhoek’s Wanaheda suburb, sources close to the matter allege the valuation of the property was never disclosed to the ministry. It is alleged the building was valued at N$4.2 million, which the owners have disputed as a biased valuation due to the location of the property that BIPA intends to turn into a satellite in a bid to bring its services closer to the communities. Last year the MITSMED instructed the Offshore Development Company (ODC), which falls under its authority, to avail the N$18 million to BIPA from what it called ‘special funds’ for the purchase of the property. This instruction stemmed from a 2005 management agreement between the ministry and ODC which states the spending of special funds is as per instruction of the MITSMED. “I supported and agreed with the need for BIPA to acquire their own offices (assets) from where they can render public services and to strengthen the standing of their balance sheet,” the permanent secretary in the MITSMED, Gabriel Sinimbo, yesterday told New Era. He explained that when funds are allocated to institutions like BIPA, town councils, regional councils or other state-owned enterprises from mother institutions, the usage of these funds is subject to due process and appropriate laws, which in essence means the CEOs of these entities are ultimately accountable for these funds. “I granted BIPA, as requested, N$18 million to procure offices. The official correspondence to BIPA stated clearly that all due processes, including valuation, had to be complied with before concluding the transaction. The compliance or non-compliance to all due processes, including if valuation of the property was done or not by BIPA, is being investigated,” Sinimbo stated. He pointed out that his actions and conduct were fully investigated and reviewed by all relevant authorities and institutions to establish if he had acted corruptly and/or ultra vires (beyond his legal power or authority). “The evidence paper trail is there speaking on my behalf. You don’t lock up or fire people just because there is a story – evidence must be considered,” Sinimbo noted. He further asserted he was authorised, in terms of the State Finance Act, and acted within his powers to avail funds to BIPA. “I assert that I acted within my powers as an accounting officer to avail funds to BIPA. The ministry annually avails funds to state-owned enterprises such as BIPA, Namibia Competition Commission, Namibia Standards Institute, Namibia Estate Agents Board and Namibia Trade Forum, which are SOEs resorting under this ministry for operational expenses or capital projects including for purposes of acquiring their offices. This is what we do on an annual basis. Funding of our SOEs, ministerial projects and programmes from the special funds is a daily activity,” explained Sinimbo. Last week The Namibian reported that BIPA’s CEO, Tileinge Andima, was suspended, pending an investigation into the purchase of the multimillion-dollar building and that the building was reportedly renovated for N$11 million. New Era has since learned that BIPA’s executive for finance and administration, Immanuel Awene, has also been suspended for paying the transfer duty of N$2 million on the sale to a private individual by the name of Martin Shilengudwa. According to the law, the transfer duty was to be paid within six months of the actual transfer. The deed of sale to BIPA was finalised by August 2017. However, a confidential source at the MITSMED insists the ministry only learned of the property purchase through the media as following ministerial approval BIPA had apparently contacted ODC directly to avail the N$18 million.
2018-03-14 08:41:43 6 months ago