The Passi City district hospital will have to try another source for its purchase of a steam sterilizer. The city of Iloilo granted the 1.1 million peso contract to someone they thought was a reputable supplier. They wound up with a piece of junk. Hopefully the procurement office will negotiate net 30 terms in the future to allow time to test equipment before handing over a check for such a sizable sum. An inspection was carried out by hospital personnel in concert with staff from the Commission on Audit (COA). The team found that the unit had no nameplate listing manufacturer information, brand name or model number. Other information was also missing. It is anyone’s guess where the machine came from. However, odds are good that its next destination will be the landfill. When hospital staff tried to fire up the equipment to perform basic testing, the defective autoclave promptly died. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
The entire transaction was disallowed in November, 2008 when details about both the product and the procurement process came under scrutiny. Investigation has shown that the dirty dealing began during bidding. There were several players involved. Ideally, the purchase of expensive equipment should be done through a closed or sealed bid process. This prevents the vendors from fixing prices among themselves and gives the buyer the best shot at closing a fair deal. In this case, the vendors involved were Pacific Trade House and CDC Pharmacy. They presented themselves as independent entities engaged in a competitive process.
However, examination of the disbursement voucher told a different story. The check made out to Pacific Trade House was actually routed directly to the rep for CDC Pharmacy. In addition to this, the proof of delivery from Pacific Trade House was signed by someone who put in a taxpayer’s id # for Dione Trading – the company that actually delivered the autoclave. Further digging revealed that Dione Trading and CDC Pharmacy are owned by the same person.
The Finger Pointing Begins
Such obvious collusion is embarrassing to all those involved. The assumption on the part of the vendors was that there would be no investigation to reveal this fraud. This says a great deal about their opinion of the officials involved in the purchase. The COA points to the people in charge of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), the provincial engineer, and several others as being liable for this fiasco. The current Governor is also taking some heat since he approved the transaction. Accusations of corruption and graft are being hurled right and left.
What isn’t clear is how the province of Iloilo is planning to provide a functioning autoclave to fill the need at the Don Valerio Palmares Sr. Memorial District Hospital. They are sure to be more wary on their next procurement attempt. It is possible to buy a refurbished sterilizer to cut costs. However, this is only a good idea when the unit has been returned to factory specifications by the original manufacturer. Stringent testing is absolutely necessary to confirm that such reclaimed equipment meets all requirements for safety and efficacy. To avoid uncertainty about the provenance and condition of a machine, purchasing a new unit is the simplest route. There are a number of other points to take into consideration as well. Click here for a free report providing this vital information.