An audit into the procurement of Covid personal protective equipment at Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) has revealed that million-worth of N95 facemasks cannot be traced.
This is contained in a just released audit report, which cites weak controls as one of the factors that could have contributed to the loss of millions of Kwacha in the facemasks’ procurement exercise at CMST.
The report, which audit firm Graham Carr did, looked into four contracts pertaining to the procurement.
In one of the contracts labelled 546, the cost of 100,000 facemasks from Reliance Trading Company was increased from K147 million to K167. 58 million while the tender was already in motion.
“There is no evidence that the procurement directorate communicated to the IPDC, during a meeting held on June 1, that they had already received an invoice from Reliance Trading Company amounting to K167.58 million which was different from the Local Purchase Order amount of K147 million on 26th May 2020 before contract negotiations and IPDC approval,” the report reads.
On the same contract, the report notes that, out of the 100,000 N95 facemasks which CMST procured from Reliance Trading Company, only 83,420 have been traced to various district health offices, which means that 16,580 masks cannot be traced.
The masks were bought from Reliance Trading at K1,675.80 and CMST invoiced the Ministry of Health K1,770.00 which, when handling fees are included, comes to K29, 436, 600.00.
“This means that Ministry of Health was billed K29, 436,600.00 more for the N95 masks which have not been traced…
“IPDC failed its duty to closely follow and monitor the actual sequence of events and basically rubber stamped the already agreed prices by procurement directorate with the supplier,” the report reads.
The report also says 6,900 facemasks out of 64,500 procured from Galaxy Pharmaceuticals cannot be traced.
The facemasks cost K1,995.00 per item, which means the Ministry of Health lost K13,765,500.00 in the deal.
CMST spokesperson Herbert Chandilanga asked for more time before he could comment on the development.
Meanwhile, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira has described the report as “detailed”.
“The report is well detailed. What remains is for authorities to take action on the individuals named. It is unfortunate that such reports come and go, with no action from the relevant authorities.
“The report clearly says that procurement laws were not followed; then, what next? What we, as an organisation, see is that we will start pushing such cases to court ourselves,” he said.
Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director George Jobe said it was unfortunate that resources meant for the heath sector continued to be misused, thereby putting people’s lives at risk.
Jobe said those named in the report should face justice.
“This could just be an example of so many things happening. It could even be that our drug budgets are being plundered like that,” he said.