International Film Festival of Kerala contract winner is loser too!

Deccan Chronicle.  | R Ayyappan

Entertainment, Mollywood

Lower bidder disqualified, awardee asked to cut amount.

IFFK logo

Thiruvananthapuram: Here is a strange case where the loser wins the day for Chalachithra Academy. The Academy, for the first time ever, had invited tenders for IFFK-2017's ‘Hospitality and Guest Relations’. There were just two bidders: ViBGYOR Film Collective, which had been organising ViBGYOR International Film Festival for the past 12 years in Thrissur, and Trivi Art Concerns, which had been looking after IFFK hospitality during the last five years. When the first-time bidder (ViBGYOR) quoted a low amount, the Academy upturned the tender process. It insisted on a technical evaluation. (Normally, in a two-stage bid process, it is the technical evaluation that is done first. Only those technically qualified participates in the financial round.) The technical evaluation disqualified the lower bidder. Trivi Art was awarded the contract, but was asked to bring down the bid amount to the level of ViBGYOR's.

While ViBGYOR quoted Rs 3.5 lakh, Trivi Art’s bid amount was Rs 5.39 lakh. “I was informed by the Deputy Director on October 21 that the tender was in our favour, and he asked me to meet the treasurer of the Academy the same day,” said Louis Mathew, the treasurer of ViBGYOR Film Collective who was designated as ‘team captain’. “We discussed the details of the work, and he told me a work order would be issued by the Secretary on October 23,” he added. But on the very same day he was informally told that there would be a technical evaluation, too. “I received an email from the Chalachithra Academy secretary on October 25 to make a technical presentation on October 27,” Mr Mathew said.

The three-member technical evaluation committee, which had members from KIITS and Tourism Department, found Trivi Art more technically competent. The contract therefore was awarded to Trivi Art. Mr Mathew cried foul and shot off a letter to the Chief Minister and culture minister. “Trivi has been doing this work for many years without any competitors. I feel this bogus technical committee is a mechanism to sabotage the system of Open Tender, tried for the first time this year,” Mr Mathew said. Mr Mahesh Panju, the Academy secretary, countered this. “Managing the guests of an international festival was not like organising a small festival like ViBGYOR.” But Mr Mathew said that he had six years experience at the Chalachithra Academy as the programme manager (festivals & programmes), from 2001 to 2006. Mr Mathew also raised the “loss to the exchequer argument”.

“The Academy has decided to give the tender to a bidder who has quoted Rs 1.89 lakh more than us. This amounts to a huge loss of public money and I suspect corruption on the part of the Academy,” he wrote to the CM. However, this argument has been taken care of with Triva bringing down their bid amount to ViBGYOR’s, Rs 3.50 lakh. Curiously, Triva’s revised bid is at least Rs 50,000 less than the money it had pocketed during the last IFFK.