KATHMANDU, July 8: A complaint has been filed at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) against Bishal Pandit for misuse of government funds with the involvement of government and hospital officials. Government hospitals have been accused of unfairly awarding procurement tenders to firms owned by Pandit.
According to the CIAA, a case was filed with it on July 2 against Pandit, who owns Hospitech Enterprises Pvt Ltd and Life Line Trade International Pvt Ltd. Bir Hospital recently awarded Life Line a huge tender for the purchase of a radiotherapy machine, in violation of the Procurement Act.
The tender call had specified a Tomo Theraphy malchine although the Act says a particular brand or trade mark cannot be mentioned while preparing the tender documents.
The case registered at the CIAA mentions that two firms owned by Pandit were awarded 13 tenders worth a total of Rs 1.83 billion between May 2016 and June 2017.
Pandit's firms were awarded all the government tenders in a set up with government and hospital officials, states the complaint filed at the CIAA. The technical specifications for the tender bracketed out other prospective bidders. The other firms were said not to have met the specification details although they quoted lower amounts than Pandit and did meet the specifications demanded.
Bir Hospital's tender for Rs 420 million (US$ 4.2 million) for a Tomo Therapy machine manufactured by Accuray Inc in the US was opened on July 4 and awarded to Pandit's Life Line, which quoted a price of Rs 399.08 million. The Tomo Therapy machine costs US$ 2.2 million to 2.5 million. Pandit has quoted US$ 3.2 million exclusive of VAT and customs duty, an installation cost of Rs 66.6 million and maintenance cost of US$ 200,000, according to the bid details. The normal installlation cost is said to be Rs. 30 million and the normal maintenance cost US$100,000.
Pandit, however, said that these were allegations for the sake of allegations. “The actual price of the Tomo Therapy as presented by the company's representatives at Bir some months ago was Rs 490 million,” he said.
The government offers tenders worth Rs 2,000 million to Rs 10,000 million in a year, Pandit said. “I was awarded only 13 bids in a year worth about Rs 200 million, which is just about five percent of the total. I got only two bids at Bir,” he said, adding that Life Line is owned by his brother Pushkar Pandit.
Dr Ganesh Man Gurung, vice chancellor of the National Academy of Medical Sciences, said that they awarded the tender to Pandit's firm as no one else took part in the bidding.
“State of the art equipment is not cheap. The private hospitals have tried to foil Bir's bid to buy the latest equipment. At the same time, the producers of similar equipment were trying to play foul to sell their uncertified products and thwart the bidding process,” he said.
Vineet Gupta, regional sales manager of Varian, said that Bir Hospital locked the specifications into the bid process to restrict others from applying. “We urged the Ministry of Health and hospital authorities in writing to revise the specifications but they did not do anything. As a result we were unable to bid for the tender,” he added.
Jiba Raj Koirala, spokesperson for the CIAA, said that they are yet to start work on the case. “We will start screening the files next week,” he said.