House panel points out discrepancies in purchase of medical supplies

Kathmandu, June 22

The preliminary report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) under the Federal Parliament has revealed that the Ministry of Health and Population had passed the COVID-19-related medical supplies procurement process by directly seeking proposals without ascertaining the source of the budget and preparing cost estimates.

The report released by the committee today states that the ministry had started the process to provide the budget after signing the purchase agreement.

The committee has pointed out that the head of the public procurement department of the ministry had abused his authority by involving other unrelated persons in leading the procurement process.

The PAC report also mentions that the cost estimate of any purchase made by a public body should be the same within a year. The committee has further stated that the ministry apparently selected a bidder that had quoted the highest price instead of choosing low-price bidders, which is against the Public Procurement Act.

The House panel has also pointed out that no expert health adviser was involved in the procurement process.

Similarly, the evaluation committee was also not involved in the process as provisioned by the Public Procurement Act.

Meanwhile, the cost estimate was prepared in Nepali rupees, however the agreement was signed in dollar terms, due to which the medical supplies cost more than estimated.

For instance, the price of an N95 face mask cost double the price compared to the previous procurement, the report says.

Bharat Kumar Sah, chairman of PAC, said that they will soon finalise the report after obtaining necessary information from different other concerned stakeholders.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.