The Financial Express

Financial anomalies found in purchase for hospital

| Updated: October 24, 2020 11:32:47

Financial anomalies found in purchase for hospital

A health ministry probe committee unearthed serious financial irregularities amounting to more than Tk 64 million at Shahid Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital.

Hospital director Dr Uttam Kumar Barua and five others of the procurement committee were found involved in the anomalies by the probe panel.

The investigation committee comprised additional secretary Ismail Hossain as convener, and joint secretary Shahina Khatun and deputy secretary Hasan Mahmud as members.

They recommended filing departmental cases against the accused for misappropriation of public money and causing huge losses to the public exchequer.

The investigators find that Mr Barua and four others of the procurement entity bought eight OT (operating theatre) lights at Tk 63.88 million in fiscal year (FY) 2018-19.

Each light cost Tk 8.0 million, which is 256 per cent higher than the actual market rate, they said.

But the highest price of an OT light was fixed at Tk 1.06 million.

The overpricing of each unit of OT light by the procurers has inflicted a loss of Tk 45.96 million.

According to the Hospital Services Management programme, the price of a ceiling-mounted double dome LED OT light is Tk 2.2 million.

The probe committee mentioned the price of such light in the three major hospitals of the country.

Salimullah Medical College Hospital purchased OT light at Tk 2.3 million per unit, Rajshahi and Chattogram medical college hospitals at Tk 0.98 million and Tk 0.99 million respectively.

On another allegation, the probe committee said the Suhrawardy hospital authorities purchased two coblation machines at Tk 9.6 million per unit in 2018.

But the highest price has been fixed in the price guideline at Tk 0.64 million per unit.

The price was refixed at Tk 1.6 million per unit in FY 2019-20. In that case, the procurement entity, formed and supervised by Mr Barua, inflicted Tk 7.8-million loss by procuring those machines at such a high rate.

Again, it was found that three cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) machines with ventilators were purchased at Tk 5.86 million per unit.

In the price guideline, the highest price has been fixed at Tk 0.78 million per unit cost.

The enquirers said the hospital was supposed to spend Tk 1.8-2.0 million for three CPR machines, but it spent Tk 17.5 million on the products.

The hospital also purchased two anaesthesia machines with ventilators at Tk 12.73 million, but the highest price for each machine was fixed at Tk 1.45 million in the price guideline.

The additional expenditure was Tk 12.67 million for two anaesthesia machines.

In its observations, the probe committee said the accusations have been proved primarily. Departmental cases can be filed against Mr Barua and members of the market rate verification committee.

Verification committee members include Dr Soumitra Sarker, associate professor of neurosurgery, Dr Ratan Das Gupta, head of nephrology dept, and Dr AKM Saif Uddin, assistant professor of ENT dept.

Other members are statistics officer ASM Kamruzzaman and administrative officer Shah Md Saiful Islam.

About these allegations, Mr Barua said the price evaluation committee gave the work order to the lowest bidder following the PPR 2008 guideline.

The survey committee received the supplies and the expenditure got the administration's approval, he mentioned.

When asked, health secretary Abdul Mannan said he is aware of the incident and the probe report, but he declined to comment on any possible action against the embezzlers.

"It happened long before my joining. The minister can say it well. Please contact him on office day," he told the FE.

Mr Mannan, however, said action should be taken based on the findings of the probe report.

The newly appointed director general of the Directorate General of Health Services, Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, said he is not fully informed about the probe report.

He suggested that the FE communicate with law department or administration department in this regard.

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