Medical suppliers accuse Health Ministry of bypassing competitive bidding process to favor certain business group

Published On: March 30, 2020 10:01 AM NPT By: Sunil Sapkota

  • Financial irregularities in the purchase of Rs 1.25 billion worth medical supplies
  • 19 suppliers had participated in the competitive bidding to supplies

KATHMANDU, March 30: Although officials at Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) claimed that they decided to procure medical supplies without following competitive bidding process, medical suppliers in the country have dismissed the claim, saying that sealed quotation invited by the ministry was ignored in collusion with certain business group.

In a press statement issued on Sunday to refute the MoHP's claim, the Chemical and Medical Suppliers Association, Nepal (CHEMSAN)-- the umbrella organization of medical suppliers in the country-- also said that the medical supplies purchased by the government were priced exorbitantly in collusion with the business group concerned.

While also raising questions about sources and quality of the medical supplies purchased by the government, the CHEMSAN said that prices of the medical supplies purchased by are far more than the market prices of those goods.

The statement of the CHEMSAN comes amid concerns raised from various quarters about the gross financial irregularities in the procurement of medical supplies from China, raising serious questions about the deal made by the MoHP to award tender without any competitive bidding process to business group with influence to those in the government.

The MoHP had awarded a tender worth Rs 1.25 billion to the Omni Business Corporate without the competitive bidding process to procure PPE and other necessary medical supplies to fight against the coronavirus.

CHEMSAN President Suresh Ghimire in the statement refuted the claim that none of the domestic suppliers and manufacturers had submitted their quotation to bid invited by the government. Ghimire said that although Management Division under the Department of Health Services had invited quotation through email, the ministry had not held any discussion on the quotations submitted by 19 suppliers to award the contract to the Omni Business Corporate in much higher prices than quoted by the medical suppliers taking part in the bidding process.

While stating that they were assured that the ministry would invite them further discussion in regard to the quotations and sign a contract with them in the ministry, the CHEMSAN alleged that the MoHP had decided to award the contract to the company, while bypassing the competitive bidding process.

The CHEMSAN also warned that the kits procured at such a higher price from the company without ensuring approved quality and standards could create situation faced by Spain at the moment in Nepal. "It is important to remain vigilant not to repeat the situation of Spain by making the procurement of good and rapid kits ignoring the quality in view of the fact that over half a dozen companies developing PCR kits have obtained USFDA certifications," it said in the statement.

Refuting the claim that none of the domestic distributors or companies had submitted question to supply those medical items, the CHEMSAN has clarified that a total of 19 suppliers had submitted their quotations with a commitment to supply those goods within the specified time.

Spokesperson at the Department of Health Services Mahendra Shrestha, however, claimed that there was no irregularities involved even as the items they procured at little higher prices. Shrestha claimed that these items cannot be procured at the normal prices these days as these goods are short in supply globally.

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