Laptops bought for teachers were of poor quality – NDMA Head

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A total of 9,609 laptops were procured by the E-Government Unit at a cost of $1.6 billion with the intent that it will be distributed to teachers across the country.

Those laptops arrived in the country in February 2016, but it was later discovered that some 2,959 of those laptops were damaged.

Almost five years later, those damaged laptops, which cost over $400 million, go down as a loss for the government with no compensation from the supplier.

On Monday, when the issue came up for discussion before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, General Manager of the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) Francis Simmons said the laptops were inferior.

He believes that although the laptops had remained in storage for some time before being distributed, the general poor quality of the laptops were responsible for the damage.

The damages ranged from swollen batteries and faulty displays. This was discovered when the laptops were checked soon after arrival.

Chairman of the PAC Jermaine Figueira clarified with the News Room that the laptops were procured by the PPP/C government with the final payment being made in 2015 soon after the APNU+AFC Coalition took office.

Additionally, 103 laptops stored at the E-Government Unit were discovered stolen in 2011.

Former Permanent Secretary of the then Ministry of Public Telecommunications Derrick Cummings also could not provide any update on the police investigation into the stolen laptops 10 years ago.

Those stolen laptops were from the One Laptop Per Family initiative.

“It is a police matter and we have been waiting on the police report. I personally asked about it a number of times, up to last year the Auditor General Report cited it and it has been appearing year after year.

“The P.S at the Office the President was more intimately involved in the matter,” he said. The stolen laptops cost some $17 million.

Member of Parliament and PAC member Ganesh Mahipaul said it was disappointing that years later there seemed to still be an ongoing police investigation with little or no aggression in seeking compensation from the vendor of the damaged laptops.

MP Dharamkumar Seeraj said an investigation needed to be conducted to determine whether the damages were as a result of manufacturer defect or because of the conditions under which it was stored

“There is need for a holistic investigation. It is a very important matters where millions of dollars were spent. We should await that report before we draw conclusions,” Mahipaul added.

The One Laptop Per Teacher initiative was driven by former President David Granger’s position that the government must provide modern research and educational tools to ensure the most rounded development.

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