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Ventilators purchased for Wardak at higher prices

Ventilators purchased for Wardak at higher prices

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Jul 12, 2020 - 13:45

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Some medical and food items, including ventilators, for combating the coronavirus in central Maidan Wardak province have been purchased at rates that are 2.3 million afghanis higher than current market prices.

Pajhwok Afghan News has reliably learnt the items purchased for the central province included two ventilators, six types of medical equipment and five food items.

Ismatullah Asim, a member of the provincial council, told Pajhwok the Wardak committee to combat Covid-19 had purchased medical supplies at higher prices without the provincial council’s healthinfo-icon committee being informed.

He said the anti-coronavirus committee had bought the medical supplies at higher rates than the current market price. Corruption was committed in purchase of the items, he alleged.

Asim also provided Pajhwok with copies of the items purchased from the Shakir Ahmadzai Company by the anti-coronavirus committee. He also received pricing documents from two other firms -- Asia Pharma and Sehat-i-Andesha.

Ventilators

The documents show the provincial coronavirus committee purchased a ventilator for 1,540,000 afghanis but Asia Pharma offered a price of 1,147,500 afghanis and Sehat-i-Andesha 9,227,200 afghanis.

Considering the average price of the Asia Pharma and Sehat-i-Andesha, these two ventilators have been purchased at a rate that is 1,000,000 afghanis higher than the actual market price.

Asim said: “We have asked about the market prices of similar ventilators as purchased by the committee. Corruption is vividly seen in the purchase of the respiratory devices.”

The Public Health Department says there are five ventilators in the province and all of them are functional. However, one of them has a leaking pipe.

Of the five ventilators, two are old, donated by the Worldinfo-icon Health Organization (WHO) to the Swedish Committee for Afghanistaninfo-icon. The SCA donated them to the main provincial hospital.

Three more ventilators in the province were purchased by the anti-coronavirus committee with funds for fighting the pandemic. One is exclusively meant for children and the two others for elders.

6 types of other items

The average prices offered by the two firms show other medical items have also been purchased at a rate that is 900,000 afghanis higher than the market cost.

The documents indicate the provincial committee bought a hospital bed for 24,000 afghanis, one microlab for 260,000afs, a voltage stabiliser for 20,000afs, an ultrasound machine for 301,455afs, an X-ray machine for 899,160afs and a microscope for 155,900afs.

However, the average prices offered by Asia Pharma and Sehat-i-Andesha show one bed cost 23,358afs, a microlab 156,850afs, a stabiliser 18,650afs, an ultrasound machine 191,000afs, an X-ray machine 652,200afs and a microscope 78,420afs.

Asim complained the quality of the hospital beds purchased by the anti-coronavirus committee was very poor and the market price he received was for better quality beds.

He added one of the two ultrasound machines purchased by the health department was used. Similarly, he claimed, two of the four stabilisers purchased were also second-hand.

The public representative remarked the most “painful thing” was that the newly purchased items had not been put into service and payments had not been cleared yet.

Public Health Director Dr. Mohammad Salem Asghakhel, referring to the high prices, said: “I acknowledge some equipment has been purchased at higher prices. There are two reasons – one, it was an emergency situation and there was instability in the market.

“Two, the manner in which these items were bought was different. Purchases in individual capacity are different from those at the governmental level, where you have to pay more taxes.”

He added: “I guarantee the quality, originality and effectiveness of the equipment because these items have all the characteristics that we demand. We have purchased them for our department and they should be available for the service of the common people.”

Since the provincial committee combating coronavirus had purchased the equipment, the price should be a concern of that particular committee, he suggested. The Public Health Department was a member of the committee, he explained.

Asgharkhel said only one ultrasound machine seemed to be second-hand and that had been replaced. The remaining items were original and brand new, the official insisted.

Referring to hospital beds, he said: “They also had mattresses, pillows, small cabinets and some other things.”

Higher food prices

The five food items that were collectively purchased cost 417,000 afghanis more than the current market price. The documents show that in Wardak province some food items were purchased in March for distribution to vulnerable families in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The items included 1,000 bags of flour, the same quantity of rice, 1,000 five-litre bottles of cooking oil, 3,500 kilograms of sugar, 1,000-kilogram green tea.

The price of one bag of flour was 1,850afs one bag of sugar 2,300afs, one bottle of cooking oil 700afs, a 7-kilogeam bag of sugar 360afs and one kilogram of green tea 340afs.

But Pajhwok’s economic report for March this year showed one bag of wheat flour accounted for 1,900 afghanis, a sack of rice for 2,200afs, a bottle of cooking oil for 406afs, per seven kilograms of sugar for 293afs and one kilogram of green tea for 300afs.

Provincial council member Asem suspected fraud and embezzlement in the purchase of the food items.   

“For instance, a bottle of cooking oil was purchased for 700 afghanis while the average price at that time was 400 to 450afs. 1,000 bottles of cooking oil had been purchased on the basis of wholesale price,” he said.

Asim added: “When we took up the issue of higher price of food items with the officials concerned, they agreed to buy eatables worth 300,000 afghanis for another 50 families.”

Civil societyinfo-icon activist Ajmal Stanikzai regretted: “Unfortunately, there is no authority in the province to hold corrupt elements accountable and ask them regarding the expensive food items.”

A handful of corrupt elements connived at plundering at state resources, he said, asking on the people of Maidan Wardak to snatch their rights from the authorities.

The public health director said the purchase of food items was none of his concern, as he was not a member of the committee.

The governor’s spokesperson and the head of the provincial committee for combating coronavirus could not be reached for comments.

This is Pajhwok Afghan News seventh report on tracing ventilators.

sa/nh/mud

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