Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara had ordered a probe to ascertain how a certain medical equipment supplier to the Health Ministry was able to sell a huge stock of surgical gloves to hospitals while violating tender procedures.
Ministry spokesman Dharma Wanninayaka said that the Treasury probe had been initiated on the instructions of Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena after he came to know about the deal which he said had resulted in a Rs. 1 billion loss to the ministry. “The fraud came to light as a result of a preliminary investigation conducted by the health ministry and reviews at the Progress Review Meeting of the ministry headed by Minister Sirisena. Minister Sirisena had instructed Dr. Jayasundara to initiate an inquiry into the matter”, Mr. Wanninayaka said.
It was revealed that the Malaysian supplier of the surgical gloves had created a shortage of gloves at state hospitals by initially delaying the supply of gloves. It was found that while he should have supplied a pair of gloves at Rs. 2.50 as per the purchase order, by delaying the shipment and creating an artificial shortage of gloves he had been able to sell a pair of gloves at an exorbitant price of Rs. 45 thereby collecting a huge profit in the process, he said.
The annual budget set aside for the purchase of surgical gloves was Rs. 950 million in 2010. The sum allocated had to be revised to Rs. two billion in 2011in order to accommodate the additional amount needed to purchase the gloves at the new rate quoted by the errant supplier, Mr. Wanninayaka added. He said that Minister Sirisena had instructed officials to blacklist the errant company and to purchase the surgical gloves locally hereafter.
Meanwhile, the cabinet sub-committee headed by Senior Minister Prof. Tissa Witharana, appointed to look into drug procurement, had recommended that drugs and medical equipment be purchased from local producers whenever possible and to develop the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation ( SPC) so as to produce medicinal drugs locally, he said.
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka