KABUL (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News findings show that 30-37 million Afghans were embezzled in the purchase of five medical items by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) alone.
Pajhwok, as a sample, selected five medical items from the list of 43 items in the MoPH coronavirus-related contract and found a higher difference between the market price and the price at which these items were purchased under the MoPH contract. The smallest difference was 37 million afs.
This contract was signed on April 13, 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic. Five elements of this contract were selected as a sample for investigation.
Purchase of 562 beds
According to the contract, the MoPH purchased 562 beds from a national producer each for 68,000 afs with a total cost reaching 38,000 216 afs.
But according to the market price, a locally produced bed with all its features costs 28,000 afs and the total beds cost 15,738,000 afs. The lowest price on the market for a single hospital bed was 17,000 afs, bringing the total amount for 562 beds to 9,554,000 afs.
The difference between the highest price on the market and the one on the basis of which the beds were purchased was 22,480,000 afs while the lowest was 28,662,000 afs.
2n/a item: Purchase of 2,550 pillows
The MoPH bought a pillow for 750 afs and the total price of the pillows reached 1,912,500 afs, but according to the market prices researched by Pajhwok, a pillow is 125 afs and the total price of the pillow is amounted to 318,750 afs. The difference between the two prices is 1,593,750 afs.
3rd item: Purchase of 5,100 cover sheets
Based on the contract, MoPH purchased each cover sheet over 800 afs and 5,100 sheets consumed 4,080,000 afs, but according to the market price, one cover sheet is purchased for 200 afs as the highest rate. The difference between the two prices is 3,060,000 afs.
4 item: Purchase of 5,100 sheets
Based on the contract, a bed sheet was purchased at 800 afs with a total price of 4,080,000 afs.
But according to Pajhwok’s assessment, the highest rate of sheets in the market was 250 afs while the lowest was 150 afs. This shows that an amount of 2,008,050 afs was diverted based on the highest rate while 3,315,000 afs were diverted at the lowest market price.
5and item: Pillow sheet
Under the contract, one pillow sheet is counted 250 afs and 5,100 pillow sheets were counted 1,275,000 afs. Pajhwok learned that the highest market price of a pillow sheet is 80afs and the lowest is 35afs.
Looking at the difference between the two prices at the lower price, 1,096,500 afs were diverted while at the higher price 867,000 afs were diverted.
Pajhwok’s results show that at the highest price differential, a total of 37,829,250 afs had been diverted, while at the lowest price differential, 30,104,500 afs had been diverted during the purchase of five items in total.
It is relevant to mention that the prices of five items remained constant in Afghanistan during the three waves of the pandemic.
Legal procedure of the contract:
Based on the Public Procurement Act, government institutes are required to follow procurement procedures including bidding, taking and reviewing bids and finally awarding the contract to the highest bidder. reasonable within three months.
However, the contract is awarded on the basis of special conditions and on an emergency basis with full authority for purchases intended for the prevention of the spread of Covid-19.
According to MoPH figures, most of the contracts related to Covid-19 are signed without following the procurement procedure and based on a single source of contingency in the procurement process.
However, findings from Pajhwok Afghan News show that one of the reasons for the high prices between MoPH contracts and the market was the sole-source contract.
On the other hand, officials from MoPH’s Procurement Department said that the reason for the high rates of equipment purchased on contract basis was the different times of purchase. They say the prices for the equipment were higher when they were purchased compared to now.
Ahmad Amin Ayaz, spokesperson for the National Procurement Authority (NPA), said sole source was one of the legal procurement methods which he added was mentioned in the Article 18 of the Public Procurement Law and Articles 22 and 23 of the Procurement Procedures.
He said 90 or 95 per cent of MoPH supply contracts were signed on a sole source basis and the reason was the state of emergency.
On transparency in sole-source contracts and the price difference, he said, “Project observation is an important issue and it is the responsibility of the procurement bodies…to take advantage of the terms sole source if it is based on procurement law has no legal problem. »
The official said that based on the Public Procurement Law, the use of single-source method is allowed under three conditions.
- When the rate of a contract reaches 500,000 Afghans.
- When it comes to an emergency such as natural disasters, national security and others.
- When the manufacture of a product or the provision of a service is under the monopoly of a single company, or only one company is able to supply the necessary product or service.
Economist Mohammad Ali Mashal said that since the foundations of a market economy are based on competition, it is not a legal issue if a single-source method of supply is used according to law and to the procedure.
“Most sole-source contracts in the country have problems. Not because of a violation of the law, but because of people paving the way for the misuse of the law,” he said.
On the other hand, Asadullah Kargar, head of the Afghanistan Medicinal Services’ Union, said that if the MoPH had asked for advice on contracts, the union would have suggested fair prices and trusted companies to the ministry.
He said the price of eight or nine kinds of medicine and medical equipment including disinfectants, masks, alcohol and some others had skyrocketed due to high demand and they were imported. from abroad.
However, he said other medical materials were obtained in domestic markets at almost fair prices.
Dastgir Nazari, spokesperson for MoPH on the significant difference between market and contract prices, said, “We didn’t buy anything at higher rates. These were the market prices at the time. We must not forget that we were in a hurry, the borders and the flights were closed which was the reason for the high prices. Thus, the goods are not purchased at higher rates by the MoPH and this issue has been investigated by numerous court sources.
According to the MoPH, the ministry’s 19 contracts were signed on a single-source basis taking into account all legal requirements and mechanisms for observing relevant sources.
Although the MoPH links high commodity prices to high emergency and general tariffs, the Pajhwok prices of five major medical production companies in the country show that the tariffs of five equipment items remained unchanged during the three phases of Covid- 19.
Earlier, Pajhwok also released reports showing that the MoPH purchased medical equipment and materials several times above market prices.