Tangu lini Fisadi Mgonja amekuwa ni Signatory wa Ikulu? State House blessing of `illegal` TICTS contract:Ikulu letter signed by Treasury PS Mgonja -Karamagi thus let off the hook in sensational style THISDAY REPORTER Dodoma THE State House letter defending the controversial extension of the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) contract was signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Gray Mgonja, THISDAY has learnt. According to our latest findings, such a letter does indeed exist, addressed by State House in Dar es Salaam to the National Assembly in Dodoma, but without the signature of any recognized, bona fide State House official. The revelation comes in the wake of a surprise announcement by Speaker Samwel Sitta in the National Assembly yesterday, to the effect that he had received an Ikulu letter stating that the TICTS contract extension followed all relevant government procedures. This is in stark contrast to the latest audit report by the governments own chief auditor, Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Ludovick Utuoh, which declared the TICTS contract extension as being unlawful. According to Sitta, the State House letter dated June 18 this year said the contract extension had been okayed by all relevant authorities. When contacted for comment on how come only the signature of the Treasury PS came to appear on such a sensitive letter from Ikulu, the Minister of State in the Presidents Office (Good Governance), Ms Sophia Simba, said she was not in a position to immediately explain. Ms Simba told THISDAY in a telephone interview that she did not attend yesterdays Bunge session and thus was not aware of what transpired. The said State House letter was addressed to the National Assembly apparently to protect the former Minister for Energy and Minerals, Nazir Karamagi, who had been tasked by Parliament to substantiate his claims made previously that the TICTS contract extension was approved by the full ministerial cabinet. Karamagi, who is one of the TICTS main shareholders, made the declaration during the preceding Bunge session last April. However, after some in-House debate, he was required to substantiate his declaration with documentary evidence. And in his announcement yesterday, Speaker Sitta said the State House letter appeared to be sufficient proof that Karamagi did not lie to the National Assembly about the deal being approved by government. Still, in the CAGs report for the financial year ending June 30, 2007, it is categorically stated that the TICTS contract extension from its initial 10 years to a whopping 25 years (a quarter of a century) was illegally executed. The controversial extension was personally ordered by former president Benjamin Mkapa in late 2005, just before winding up his tenure as head of state, and before the original contract had reached even halfway. According to the CAGs report findings, there was gross violation of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) of 2004 in the whole process of extending the lease contract to TICTS. Extension of (the TICTS) contract is contrary to the PPA of 2004. The law does not allow the contract to be altered or amended in that way, said CAG Utouh in the report, explaining that it was in breach of Section 69 (1) of the Act. According to this particular section of the legislation, a procurement contract shall not be altered or amended in any way after it has been signed by both parties, unless such alteration or amendment is to the benefit of the government or is not disadvantageous to the government. The original 10-year lease between the privately-owned TICTS and the government was signed in May 2000.