Chinese, Thai firms win tablet auctions

Chinese company Haier Electrical Appliances and the Thai Transmission Industry (TTI) yesterday won electronic auctions to supply 800,000 tablets for Prathom 1 (Grade 1) students nationwide in the so-called zones 1 and 2 respectively.

Last year, the Chinese Shenzhen Yitoa Intelligent Control Co won the auctions to procure tablets in zones 1 (in central and southern provinces) and 2, but later the contract was scrapped by the the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) due to months of delayed delivery.

So, Obec on Wednesday reorganised the one-day auctions.

In Zone 1, among two bidders — Haier Electrical Appliances beat Supreme Distribution (Thailand) to win the contract to supply 431,105 computer tablets in zone 1, central and southern provinces, for Pathom 1 students at a cost of 867 million baht, or 2,011 baht per unit.

For zone 2, covering the northern and northeastern provinces, TTI won the auction to supply 373,637 tablets for Prathom 1 students, beating other two bidders — Supreme Distribution (Thailand) and Haier Electrical Appliances. TTI offered the lowest cost among the three bidders at 700 million baht or 1,873 baht per unit.

In both zones, the bidding median price was set at 2,720 baht per unit.

In the previous round of bidding, Shenzhen Yitoa Intelligent Control Co won the bid worth 842 million baht for Zone 1 and 786 million baht for zone 2.

The bidding price for zone 1 is therefore 25 million baht higher than the previous bid and 86 million baht lower for Zone 2.

A source on the tablet committee said that Shenzhen Yitoa Intelligent Control Co would have to take responsibility for the 25 million-baht extra cost for zone 1.

The Office of the Attorney-General would take legal action on behalf of Obec against the firm for the claimed compensation.

Auction results will be sent to Obec’s secretary-general for approval and contracts will then be signed.

Even though the winning suppliers’ qualifications were checked before the auction, Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng asked all agencies to reassure them the suppliers must be able to deliver the devices on time since the winners’ offered prices are considerably lower than the median price.

“It is reasonable to worry about the winners’  ability to supply the tablets, but there is no regulation to prohibit accepting the lowest priced bids despite doubts of price dumping,” he said.

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