KATHMANDU, April 11: The Public Procurement Monitoring Office (PPMO) has started the process to blacklist Omni Group, the company accused of being involved in financial irregularities while procuring essential medical supplies required to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The PPMO, the body responsible for monitoring procurement deals and booking the firms found involved in irregularities, is investigating the matter, said Yagyaraj Koirala, a joint-secretary at the office.
Based on the recommendation from the Department of Health Services, the PPMO, which is directly supervised and monitored by the Office of the Prime Minister, has already sought details from the department and will grill the company accused of corruption accordingly. “We have sough details from the department before grilling the company. Action will be taken as per the law once we complete the investigation process,” said Koirala.
On April 1, the department had scrapped the controversial procurement deal that it had signed with Omni Group. Under enormous pressure from all walks of life, the department had also decided to fine Rs 50 million and to blacklist the company for not supplying the required medical stuffs within the given time frame.
The government was criticized after it was reported that the medical equipment supplied through Omni Group were three times costlier than what the private hospitals paid. Concerned over a faulty procurement procedure, Prime Minister KP Oli had grilled the health officials concerned including Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal. Officials involved in the contract awarding process said they had hiked 20 percent price than market price for the business company on the condition of early supply of medical equipment.
Omni was awarded the contract to supply medical equipment worth Rs 1.24 billion including 75,000 Rapid Diagnostic Testing (RDT) Kits worth $600,000. The RDTs are under question for their substandard quality.After scrapping the medical supplies deal with Omni, the government called a new tender to supply the required medical equipment. Omni is also said to be one of the firms vying in the competition among others.
Concern is rife whether Omni will get selected once again for supplying medical equipment if the PPMO delays to blacklist the business firm. Spokesperson Koirala said they would seek clarification from the company within a month after getting details from the department.
“We have already sought the details from the department. The company needs to furnish its clarification within a month after we seek it,” said Koirala adding, “So, we are waiting for the response from the department.”
The office can bar the company from being involved in any public bidding for one to three years if accusations against the company are proved true.