The director of the National Student Welfare Institute (Inabie), Victor Castro explained that before authorizing a company to participate in a tender for public school breakfasts or luncheons, Inabie inspectors visited the facilities of the company to see for themselves if they were fit to participate in the tender.
Castro was appointed to the position after the first director, Cecilio Rodríguez Montás, was removed following months of protests by state suppliers. Rodríguez Montás had been appointed in August 2020 with the change of government. As the corruption claims exploded in the media and social media, the Ministry of Education under Roberto Furcal said it would investigate. Instead, President Luis Abinader felt the evidence of the irregularities was enough for him and replaced the entire staff at the Inabie, appointing Victor Castro, a former president of the Herrera Industries Association.
Victor Castro incorporated a rigorous pre-selection procedure for companies to participate in the tenders for school breakfasts, luncheon and other government supplying.
Inabie company inspections are even more relevant after Diario Libre reported that one of the winners of the tender for high school digital books carried out by the Ministry of Education was a 76-year old chauffeur who did not know about the proceedings of the company. The chauffeur, Primitivo Santos had 49% of the shares of the School Teams company that is the supplier of content to three of the digital school textbook companies. The company’s location did not have a sign, nor did the Villa Juana address appear to be a location for a digital book company.
Victor Castro has been defending the tender carried out to choose suppliers for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years. He said he has overturned what he described as “a table served for vultures”. He said several small companies had presented bids without having their own facilities. He said their plan was to get the contracts and then subcontract with other companies.
The tenders were carried out with the participation of micro, small and medium-sized national companies with kitchens installed in the Greater Santo Domingo and all the provinces.
Meanwhile, Somos Pueblo aired the complaints of a long-time supplier to the Inabie, Ivan Miniño of Peravia, who says implementation of policies under Victor Castro have put small businesses out of business. He complained of unfairness and irregularities in the recent tenders. He mentioned the Inabie wants to deal only with companies with UHT installed capacity and has been discarding companies that only pasteurize their deliverables. He says that the companies deliver the products in perfect refrigerated conditions. He said the problems arise because the public schools do not have the cold storage capacities or do not comply with the refrigeration requirements of the products. The producer complained of long delays (six months wait is common) in getting paid, that small producers are obliged to take on factoring services of the Banreservas or Banagricola to maintain their cash flow. He complained the inspectors irregularly rated him wrong on objective factors, causing him to go to the raffle where he did not win the contracts to stay in business. Miniño stressed the importance of the public school meals programs that serve a population of two million children nationwide.
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4 August 2022