By Nigam Gupta
Like any responsible Government Organization / Agency, Jammu & Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited also been established to procure a wide variety of medicines, hospital items, equipments and services to undertake the execution of works in pursuance of its duties and responsibilities.
After concluding intense studies while visiting various ‘Medical Supplies Corporations’ of India that include TNMSCL, RMSCL and so on and then, after following various guide books and manuals of procurement and so on with a view to improving the Qualities /Transparencies in decision making in this public procurement for ensuring best of patient cares and reducing the scope for subjectivity, the Department of H&ME, J&; has issued new instructions in the domain of public procurement via introducing the formation of JKMSCL to ensure timely executions of quality supplies and availabilities thereof.
Overview of schemes like ‘Free Drug Policy, E Aushadhi’ then, introduction of a new era for procurement, storage and supplies system through adopting the most transparent arrangement in attaining the materials with utmost care taken to procure quality drugs at most competitive rates duly followed by state-of-the- art Drug Ware Houses and systems, followed for collection of samples via confirming quarantine of un-trusted drugs, receipt of tested samples and test reports and so genuinely raised a new hope not only among the ailing communities but among all stakeholders as well. Yes! We need to accept this bitter truth that any such transparency never been witnessed earlier in any of procurement by J&K-HME Department.
Now, a Question Must Be Hitting Hard To Any Sensible Mind that is why Our ‘Press-Media Reporting’s’ else Responsible Seats in Positions Well within J&K-HME Department alongside few others are still doubting or otherwise defaming or not Feeling satisfied with the working of JKMSCL?
As a standard procurement procedure of theHealth and Medical Education Department for purchase of any hospital item, there needs to be a requisition from indenting Department/ Section and based on the requirement and availability of funds, the purchase orders are issued else supplies been made executed. This is as per the financial code of J&K, nothing new in it and every officer sitting on the chair of hospital administrator knows it very well. After the receipt of purchase order, the approved eligible supplier is supposed to execute the supply order in time and put up the bills for verification by the Board in the respective stores/Drug ware Houses for getting his payments against supplies.
JKMSCL was getting the medicines and other supplies manufactured with their logo, colour coding year of manufacturing and so on which required (i) extra time as well as (ii) requirement of medicines/ hospital supplies of more than batch size, which differs from item to item and has been fixed by regulating authorities and JKMSCL was informed through the documents provided with tenders.
To ensure all above, JKMSCL must be requiring sufficient time to getting the medicines/items, quality tested and then transported from nook and corners of the country to the designated Drug Ware House of JKMSCL including far flag districts like Doda, Rajouri, Baramulla, Kupwara and so on. The idea of giving this lengthy introduction is that this practice of JKMSCL from getting requisitions with commitments of funds, placing of purchase orders, receipt of supplies, its quality testing by empanelled labs and then releasing the quality passed medicines to the health institutions and finally release of payments to the suppliers, is also known to everyone including all stake holders.
When and if everything is know, why are fingers being pointed at the JKMSCL? Now let’s try to find out and see how, at every stage, few vested interests are trying to sabotage the functioning of JKMSCL. The reasons might lie in the following:
The requisitions were being sent late and in small quantities; this was being done to ensure delay in placement of purchase orders and supply of those items requisitioned in small quantities could not be made because of small batch size. The, disbeliefs been spread at times when JKMSCL being approached without sending the requisitions, asking whether the medicines or other hospital supplies are in stock? And, knowing very well that JKMSCL cannot purchase and stock any item without requisitions and the reply of corporation shall be considered as “NOC” for purchase at their own level. This was being done on the basis of pseudo – emergency like situation created in the hospital by such people, well in coordination with other users / manipulators.
Some would start asking for the supplies immediately after sending the requisition without considering the fact that the corporation requires minimum of three months for procurement (internal/external lead time) and quality testing and so on. Others would only provide requisitions and not the commitment of funds knowing that under rules and as per financial codes, the corporation could only place orders after receipt of funds; this is being done deliberately to ensure that supplies are further delayed, so that they can make hue and cry and keep on purchasing the medicines at their own level.
It has also been found that few user departments deliberately, send the requisitions of those items which are formulary not approved by JKMSCL or which are not in the drug lists and so on. Such, efforts are being taken recourse to prove before higher authorities that only a small percentage of their requisitions is being provided by the corporation, thus forcing them to purchase from the open market. It was again an attempt to defame the corporation and suppliers/ manufacturers.
The requisition of many approved items in favour of our manufacturing camps from biggest hospitals of Jammu/Srinagar cities was ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 5000. The purchase orders were issued to suppliers so that they could never be able to manufacture such items as these were not as per our batch size for manufacturing. But the same product was purchased by those administrators in large quantities from the open market at higher rates from their blue eyed brokers.
Now, after the medicines are received and stored in Drug ware Houses and after quality testing , these were not lifted by the hospital superintendents on the pretext that they were not consulted by indenting officers before placing the requisitions. Sometimes, the verification board, which is not required, at the time of online purchase (e-Aushadhi) and third party quality testing by JKMSCL, for which we were paying 1.5 % extra on our each invoice value, were responsible for extra ordinary delays, in verification of the bills. Thus there was delay in making payments by corporation.
The administrative control of the Drug Ware Houses has not been handed over to the corporation till date, despite oft repeated directions at the level of Chief Minister, Health Minister and Secretary Health.
There was accumulation of medicines and other hospital supplies worth crores of rupees in the Drug Ware Houses. In last one year itself, medicines and other hospital supplies, which were provided in bulk to the hospitals by JKMSCL and never seen in such large quantities in the last twenty years of my experience.
The hospital administrators and the chemists with in the hospitals who are in the symbiosis with each other never wanted the Government supply, so it never came out of the hospital stores and wherever it was properly distributed, the public at large became very happy.
Nobody at the helm of affairs ever bothered to ask or inquire from anyone as why the above said mal practices were being carried out deliberately to ensure that the corporation fails in making the supplies and is closed. The Government has been issuing directions for using 25% of the sanctioned budget by the hospital administrators for emergency purchases whereas rest 75% is to be procured through the corporation. But has anybody/ agency ever bothered to monitor as why more than 80% budget on account of purchase of medicines is being spent by the hospital administrators and only 10-20 % is being sent to the corporation. This includes the funds from State Government, Central Government, Hospital development Funds and so on
JKMSCL like other corporations, if not allowed to make purchases and take 5% of the purchase as administrative expenses shall surely in short time will become another sick unit / corporation anda liability on the government of Jammu and Kashmir and over and above the funding under “Free Drug Policy” from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI shall also stopped, as funds are only provided to the state with a functional corporation.
At the end, the sufferer again will be the common man.
—The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policy of Kashmir Reader. The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org