LAHORE: The primary and secondary healthcare department has launched a probe into the alleged violations in the establishment of four bio-safety level (BSL) III laboratories and the procurement of cardiac monitors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Department Secretary retired Capt Muhammad Usman formed a five-member committee and directed it to start investigations urgently into the four BSL-III laboratories established in four districts of Punjab.

Special Secretary Dr Ajmal Bhatti has been made the convener of the committee, which was notified on Monday. The other members included the Punjab health services director general, deputy secretary of the vertical programme, the director of bio-medical equipment resource centre and a civil engineer.

An official privy to the development said that action was taken when the health secretary was informed that his department officers have re-tendered the project of establishment of BSL-III lab in Sargodha instead of awarding it to the lowest bidder.

Health dept officials re-tendered projects instead of accommodating lowest bidder

He said five firms participated in the bidding process and the highest bid quoted was Rs44.7 million, while the company offered that it would establish the lab in Rs31.9m. Three of the other firms offered lower rates of Rs29.6m, Rs27.3m and Rs26.8m.

The official said that instead of awarding the contract to the lowest bidder, the department ordered to re-tender the project.

The secretary was apprised that the purpose of re-tendering was to accommodate a specific firm which had already established BSL labs in Punjab for Rs30.5m per lab.

Moreover, he said, the department had started the process for procurement of 300 cardiac monitors keeping in view the growing needs for Covid-19 critical patients in Punjab. Applications were sought from only those firms which possessed at least two out of three international certifications (US, Germany and Japan).

Three international firms participated in the tender as per the requirements in the bidding documents. But again the department officials violated the rules and accommodated a local firm, which only had one international certification.

“I have already taken notice of the alleged violations in the two tenders and ordered an inquiry to bring facts to the public,” Mr Usman confirmed to Dawn.

He said that as a department head he was a custodian of public funds that were largely meant for their welfare, adding that he would not spare anyone in case any violation was proved true.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2020