Health department officials preparing to embezzle Rs 410 million in equipment purchase

Published On: August 7, 2022 07:00 PM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, August 7: The Department of Health Services under the Ministry of Health and Population has been preparing to purchase health equipment by paying Rs 410 million more than the actual price in collusion with some unscrupulous businessmen. According to a highly-placed source at the ministry, the company price of the equipment, which the supply division of the department is preparing to purchase, is around Rs 320 million. However, the department has agreed to purchase the equipment for Rs 730 million in collusion with the businessmen.

A tender issued by the department has been awarded to Lumbini Health Care and its associated companies. A Letter of Credit has also been opened to purchase health equipment from South Korea and China. The department is procuring 178 portable ultrasound machines, nine DR x-ray machines, 13 flat panel detectors, 130 hemodialysis machines, 1,000 pulse oximeters, and 1,000 BP sets.

Sources claim that to award contracts to companies of his choice, the head of the supply branch, had contracted a Biomedical engineer to construct the contract specifications. Dr Surendra Chaurasia is currently the head of the supply branch. Even before this, most of the materials brought by the department have been tendered by Lumbini Healthcare and its affiliated companies.

Hira Chandra KC, Minister of State for Health and Population, said he only began showing his interest in the matter after he heard that the department is preparing to buy health equipment by paying more than double the company price. “I had shown interest in the earlier procurement case. However, I have not been able to understand much about the recent purchase. If there is a difference of Rs 410 million in the cost, it will be investigated,” said State Minister KC. He informed Republica that a detailed study will also be done by the ministry regarding the purchase. “The ministry will start studying irregularities. Those who are found guilty will be punished according to the law,” he said.

Director General of the Department, Dr Dipendraraman Singh claimed that the procurement process of the medical supplies is as per the standards. However, he went on to say that he did not know much about the subject and suggested getting additional information from others. “Dr. Rudra Marasini knows more regarding this, ask him rather than me,” he said.

According to a source at the ministry, after finding that efforts were being made to embezzle more than Rs 410 million in the purchase of the health supplies, the Minister of State for Health,  Hirachandra KC even asked Dr Chaurasiya for an explanation. 

The recent collaboration between the supply branch and Lumbini Healthcare is not the first collaboration between the two organizations. The company seems to have the largest share in the purchases made by the department for years. According to the data released by the department, Lumbini Healthcare was awarded contracts worth Rs 445.5 million three times in the previous year alone. These contracts to Lumbini Healthcare constitute 22.61 percent of the procurement contracts awarded by the department. Last year, the department approved 57 tenders and made purchase contracts worth Rs 1.97 billion.

As per the procurement details released by the department, after Lumbini Healthcare, GH Medihealth Concern was the highest procurement contract. GH Medihealth Concern has received a purchase contract worth Rs 303.6 million in three phases. 


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