Ministry of Health, on Wednesday, confirmed that the 10 ventilators shipped by Dubai company Executors General Trading LLC, as replacements for the previously rejected ventilators, fit the ministry’s specifications.
Deputy Director-General of the Health Ministry, Thasleema Usman, stated that the replacement ventilators, delivered at the beginning of the month, passed the assessment conducted by a team of experts.
In August, the Health Ministry stated that the supplier assured that they will send WEINMANN brand ventilators in place of the 10 portable ventilators, which the ministry had rejected.
The state rejected the first 10 ventilators when a team of doctors, nurses and biomedical engineers concluded that they were not suitable for COVID-19 treatment.
With this development, the Dubai company is still contracted to deliver an additional 65 ICU ventilators, for which the company has yet to provide a timeline.
Under the controversial deal, the supplier was initially tasked with delivering the 75 ventilators within 29 days of receiving the full payment of MVR 34 million. The state has already paid an advance payment of MVR 30 million, without a bank guarantee, covering 90 per cent of the total cost.
On August 16, the Auditor General’s (AG) Office released a compliance audit report on the Health Ministry’s spending of state funds for the COVID-19 response, which revealed that the ministry had spent millions in violation of the Public Finance Act, whilst claiming to procure ventilators and other medical supplies.
The Health Ministry claimed that the advance payment was issued without a bank guarantee due to the urgency in acquiring ventilators. Since the global demand for ventilators was high, the ministry stated that the supplier demanded a daily payment of USD 25,000 if the ventilators were not reserved within a certain time period.
Currently, the Anti-Corruption Commission and Maldives Police Service are conducting a joint investigation into the health ministry’s COVID-19 expenditures highlighted in the audit report.
However, Health Minister Abdulla Ameen, along with the ministry’s officials have maintained that the procurement of supplies was not conducted in a manner that facilitated corruption.
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