From January 2003, all government contracts worth more than BD 10,000 ($26,000) were required to go through the Tender Board. However, according to Bapco officials, it was unclear as to whether the rules applied to the company and more than a year was spent negotiating a higher ceiling, eventually set at BD 100,000 ($263,000). For contracts of a lower value, Bapco was simply required to notify the Tender Board of their award on a monthly basis.

‘The whole thing is a storm in a teacup,’ says a Bapco official. ‘Some parliamentarians want to make an issue of it with one eye on elections coming up. The NAC report ignores the fact that for many months we were not sure whether or not the rules applied. From our side there were some oversights in providing the monthly information, but there was nothing corrupt about it. Criticisms of single sourcing ignore the reality of our long-term agreements with suppliers, as well as the fact that we don’t have time to submit each contract to cumbersome Tender Board procedures.’