Central Medical Stores dubious contracts exposed

Procurement of drugs and medical equipment at Central Medical Stores (CMS) is full of corruption and dubious deals. Few companies are always favoured even if their bids are not sound.

Such transactions are costing Malawians as drugs keep missing in the hospitals. State coffers are also drained unreasonably. A few top guys at the CMS have become so rich that no one comprehends their status when compared to the civil service salaries.

An official at the Ministry of Health gave some highlights of dubious bids to Nyasa Times correspondent in the Capital City as follows:

On 11 August 2009, Premiumway International Ltd was awarded a bid for US$103 295.71 against a bid price of $89 069.04. The price was an increase of $14 226.67 and no explanation was given.

Samute: Government has made strides to restock drugs

On 31 July 2009 the same Premiumway International Ltd was given another contract for 36 599.50 Euros when their initial bid was 39 820 Euros leaving a difference of 3 220.50 Euros. The lowest bidder in this tender was Mohan Exports with $24 698.00 followed by Medhold at $50 462.50 without explanation.

On the same day the same company was also awarded another contract at a price of 124 885.20 Euros against their initial bid of 115 742.80 leaving a difference of 9 142.40 Euros. The lowest bidder was Medhold with $34 393.93.

The contract for spray equipment in 2008 was also messed up. The Malawi based company that got the award, Farm-Chem Wholsesalers, was supposed to be disqualified because it requested payment in US Dollars contrary to the requirement to pay in Malawi Kwacha.

Because of that due to fall in value of the Kwacha, there was a difference of K4 493 670.40 which had to be paid by the Ministry of Health.

The ministry also goofed on the purchase of five 4×4 station wagons.

The purchase of the Toyota Prados contravened the policy on procurement of four wheel drive vehicles as outlined by government on 8 May 2008. A total of K56 310 800 spent on the contract was ineligible expenditure.

There were also corrupt deals in the tender for spray equipment and insecticides to combat malaria in 2008.

Procurement of 360 000 amounts of  needle 15 drops/ml and 155 000 amounts of giving set iv administration and needle 60 drops /ml was irregular.

Three cheapest suppliers were identified and a contract for K13 112 2000 was proposed to be split giving K4 515 000 to RC Commodity Suppliers, K3 483 000 to Chingwa Medical Supplies and K5 114 000 to Basic Medical Laboratories.

But CMS decided to award the whole tender to Basic Medical Laboratories for K10 250 000 which failed to supply in time.

However, IPC 63rd meeting minutes show that they decided to cancel the contract with Basic Medical Laboratories due to the delay and instead give it to WWP and Med-Vet which were eliminated earlier.

Malawi is experiencing a serious drug shortage which is forcing some hospitals to turn patients away.

In September, principal secretary for the Ministry of Health, Willie Samute,  said  the Malawi Government made strides to restock Central Medical Stores warehouses with various essential drugs.

He said the government had procured drugs and supplies worth K500, 000, 000 in the first procurement, while in the second, the drugs and supplies will cost K1 billion and last six months.

Recently, Chairperson of the Donor Health Group, Athanase Nzokirishan, said inefficiencies, financial shortfalls, and lack of transparency and accountability at Central Medical Stores have led to the current drug shortage.

He challenged government to deal with inefficiencies and corruption.

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