ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) is spending over Rs80 million on the renovation of a rented building in which the offices of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) will be shifted just for 14 months.

In July 2014, the ministry decided to shift the DRAP offices to the rented building at Sector G-9 for two years during which it was to construct a separate building for DRAP at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

However, DRAP and the ministry officials believed that with such a huge amount the regulatory body could have constructed a building of its own.

After the 18th Amendment, health became a provincial subject and as a result the Drug Registration Board became ineffective. But in 2012, the board was established again under the DRAP Act and its offices were opened at the C. Block of Pak Secretariat.

However, the ministry faced pressure to shift the DRAP offices from the Secretariat as only ministries were allowed to have offices there.

An official of the health ministry on the condition of anonymity told Dawn that the acquisition of the 30,000 square-foot building at Sector G-9 on a rent of Rs4.65 million per month did not go well with the National Assembly standing committee on national health services.

The rented building will house offices of DRAP for only 14 months till the construction of its own building

Moreover, according to documents available with Dawn, the health ministry also decided to spend Rs137 million on the purchase of physical assets, including Rs50 million for furniture and fixture, Rs51 million for vehicles, Rs13 million for machinery and equipment and Rs12 million for software etc.

The documents showed that the policy board of the ministry had serious reservations over the allocations for the purchase of the furniture and other items. A DRAP official said instead of shifting the regulatory body offices to a rented premises, the ministry should have started constructing a building on the 50 kanal land it was going to acquire from the NIH on a lease of Rs5,000 per kanal.

“The building at G-9 was hired in July 2014 and since then the ministry has been paying its rent. On the other hand, all the major offices located at the Secretariat have not been moved,” he said.

Some offices of the authority located in Blue Area were, however, shifted to the new building in September last year. “These included the directorates of pharmacy service, alternate medicine, evaluation cell, biological, quality assurance and lab testing,” he said.

“The offices in C. Block of Secretariat included the office of the chief executive officer (CEO), directorates of registration, controlled drugs, licensing, budget and accounts, administration, human resource, pricing and legal affairs,” he said.

The renovation of the rented building is likely to take another year, he added. The official said Rs4.65 million were being paid as a rent for the building at G-9. But if a building is constructed on the land of the NIH, only Rs5,000 per kanal (Rs100,000 for 20 kanal) would be paid to the NIH as a rent,” he said.

When contacted, DRAP’s chief executive officer Dr Aslam admitted that the rent of the building at G-9 was huge.

“At a meeting with the board of directors of the NIH it has principally been decided that the land would be handed over to DRAP. It will take three to five months to get the possession of the land,” he said.

“I am also in a hurry to start the construction of the building because the prices of construction materials are escalating,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2015

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