Nepal | July 16, 2020

Govt scraps contract with Omni Group

Himalayan News Service
Share Now:
  • Didn’t receive medical equipment in time
  • COVID testing kits don’t meet standards set by the World Health Organisation
  • Govt flayed for ordering kits that are known for showing false negative results

Kathmandu, April 1

The government has scrapped the contract with Omni Group, the supplier of medical equipment to the government, for failing to supply the promised gear in time.

The government’s decision to scrap the Rs 340-million contract has come at a time when questions are being raised about the accountability of the medical equipment procurement process and the standard of testing kits.

Director General of Department of Health Mahendra Prasad Shrestha told mediapersons at the daily press briefings organised at the ministry today that the government decided to scrap the contract with the business group as it had failed to supply the promised equipment before the deadline.

He said the group was supposed to bring the remaining equipment by tomorrow, but the company did not assure the government of the supply. He added that the department would blacklist the company for failing to provide medical equipment on the stipulated date. He said the department would confiscate the firm’s bank guarantee worth Rs 50 million.

Shrestha said the company had supplied only 10 per cent of the promised gear, which was around 18 per cent of the price the department had agreed to pay to it.

Shrestha added that the department would start a fresh procurement process for necessary medical gear within three days and would seek its supply within five days of signing a deal with the supplier.

Earlier, the government had bypassed minimum quotation and purchased medical equipment and kits at high rate from Omni Group. This had raised many eyebrows and made the entire procurement process suspicious. Moreover, it was revealed that coronavirus test kits worth almost Rs 70 million that the government purchased from China did not meet the World Health Organisation standards.

The government has also stopped the use and supply of these rapid test kits.

Shrestha said the department was testing the efficacy of these kits. “These medical kits were not purchased for immediate use. They are meant to test large number of people if the coronavirus spreads at the community level,” he said.

He added that these kits would be used only if they passed the efficacy test and met the WHO standards. According to him, almost 7,500 rapid test kits brought from China on March 29 are undergoing efficacy tests.

Shrestha added that the government was obliged to purchase medical gear at 20 per cent higher rate as doctors and health professionals urgently needed that to test suspected COVID-19 patients and treat sufferers.

Shrestha said Omni Group was selected from among two companies that promised to bring the equipment within the required time frame and when the government endorsed the group’s tender, it did so only after reducing the price by 0.5 per cent.

He said the department had discussed issues of procurement with 19 suppliers, but they demanded at least 30 days to bring the required equipment.

Despite repeated attempts, representatives of Omni Group could not be contacted for comments.

As per the agreement, Omni was supposed to bring in specific quantities of equipment in batches. For example, it had to bring in 100,000 units of PPEs on Sunday, but only 10,000 units arrived. Other equipment, such as N95 masks, surgical masks and surgical gloves, too arrived in less quantities than what was stated in the agreement.

“However, the rapid testing kits that had to arrive in the third batch arrived in the first batch,” said Shrestha.

“Of the 75,000 kits ordered, 50,000 arrived.”

Moreover, the kits are not recommended for use by the World Health Organisation.

The government also drew criticism for ordering rapid testing kits that are known for being non-reliable and showing false negative results. Many countries have already banned use of such kits. Initially, the government defended the procurement stating that the high price was due to shortage of such equipment in the global market.

Meanwhile, Khem Bahadur Karki, health adviser to minister of health and population, issued a press release stating that the government had directed the authorities concerned not to use the rapid testing kits for the time being.

A version of this article appears in e-paper of The Himalayan Times on April 02, 2020.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Report on Rapid Assessment of Nepali Migrant Workers' Situation made public

KATHMANDU: In challenging times brought on by the coronavirus disease, Nepal Policy Institute and Migration Lab, jointly, made a report on 'Rapid Assessment of Nepali Migrant Workers’ Situation in Major Destination Countries' public. "Hundreds of thousands of Nepali workers, primarily in the Gu Read More...

Nepal COVID-19 Update: 116 new cases, 697 recoveries, one death recorded on Wednesday

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry, in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates on coronavirus contagion from across the country, and government’s response to the health crisis. As of today, 298,829 tests through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method have been carried out, Read More...

Rajesh Hamal requests audience to forgive Deepa Shree Niruala for questioning Mahanayak title

KATHMANDU: Veteran actor Rajesh Hamal took to social media in an attempt to put an end to the controversy surrounding actress-director Deepa Shree Niraula in relation to her questioning the 'Mahanayak' titled bestowed upon him. Sharing a video on his Facebook on July 14, he urged the public "to b Read More...

Painting is Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar's form of therapy

KATHMANDU: Former Miss World and actress Manushi Chhillar, who has been into painting since her childhood days, says it has always been a therapeutic experience for her. Chhillar took to Instagram and shared a few of her paintings and wrote: "My form of therapy'. According to IANS, Chhillar st Read More...

Tina Turner comes out of retirement with What's Love Got To Do With It remix

KATHMANDU: American born Swiss singer Tina Turner, who had retired from singing, has teamed up with Norwegian producer Kygo to release a remix of her 1984 hit, What's Love Got To Do With It? "Can't believe I'm releasing a collab with @LoveTinaTurner this Friday! What's Love Got To Do With It' is Read More...

Chris Pratt loved his long jacket as Star-Lord, not the helmet though

KATHMANDU: Hollywood actor Chris Pratt loved the long jacket his character Star-Lord wore in superhero films like Avengers: Infinity War and he feels it's cool. IANS quoted him as saying, "You know I really love my long jacket and when I get to wear that long jacket it's really cool. It's leath Read More...

Korean stars Goo Hye-sun and Ahn Jae-hyun legally divorced

KATHMANDU: Korean actors Goo Hye-sun and Ahn Jae-hyun are now legally divorced. The former couple's first divorce mediation was held on July 15 at the Seoul Family Court which was not attended by either Goo or Ahn. Quoting local reports, Allkpop states legal representatives of both parties att Read More...

Nepali photo-journalists condemn unprofessional behaviour of media houses during crisis

KATHMANDU: Photo Journalist Club (PJC) and National Forum of Photo Journalists (NFPJ) have condemned the attitude of media houses failing to provide professional security to working photo-journalists amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, PJC and NFPJ jointly issued a press release sta Read More...