KATHMANDU, June 8: It has been found that there is a huge price difference in the same amount of health equipment purchased by two different government bodies to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The price of the same amount of health equipment purchased by Nepal Army (NA) and the Department of Health Services has a difference of more than three times.
The department had purchased surgical masks at Rs 15 per piece through open competition, while the Nepal Army purchased the same mask at 43 cents (Rs 52) through a government to government (G2G) agreement with China.
As per the information received by Republica Online, the department purchased 8.3 million units of surgical masks at Rs 15 per piece, while the Nepal Army purchased 2.5 million units of surgical masks at Rs 52 per piece.
The surgical masks Nepal Army purchased is Rs 37 costlier per piece than the masks purchased by the health department. This means, the Nepal Army has paid an additional Rs 92.5 million to purchase 2.5 million surgical masks.
The health department has purchased 2.9 million small-sized surgical masks, five million medium-sized masks, and 417,431 big-sized surgical masks.
Likewise, Nepal Army has purchased 750,000 small-sized surgical masks, 1.2 million medium-sized masks, and 500,000 big-sized surgical masks.
Though the government allowed the Nepal Army to purchase medical equipment, the Ministry of Health and Population allowed the Department of Health Services to purchase 15 percent health equipment.
The health department has purchased 250,000 N95 masks at Rs 245 per unit. Likewise, the Nepal Army purchased 212,500 units of protective masks at Rs 357 per piece.
According to Dr Bhogendra Dotel, chief of the management division of Department of Health Services, the health equipment purchased by the Nepal Army should have been cheaper. “The Nepal Army doesn’t need to pay VAT and customs duty for the health equipment it purchased. So it should have been cheaper,” said Dotel.
Meanwhile, Bigyan Dev Pandey, spokesperson for the Nepal Army, said the national army is preparing to distribute the purchased health equipment. He confirmed that the Nepal Army purchased surgical masks at 43 cents per piece. But he refused to comment on other questions asked by Republica Online.