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253-day delay

Tevita Vuibau
Friday, July 14, 2017

THE Auditor-General's Report 2016 has found that an unclaimed container of medicine for the health system sat idle at the Port of Suva for 253 days before it was finally cleared

The unclaimed consignment was revealed in the audit of the Ministry of Economy.

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) found a container was consigned for Fiji Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Services (FPBS), but remained uncleared for 253 days because of an oversight.

The consignment was supposed to have been cleared by the Fiji Procurement Office (FPO), but it was not advised of its arrival by the government agency responsible.

"Currently, the process is for ministries and departments to advise of inbound consignments upon receipt of arrival notice which was not the case in this instance," the Ministry of Economy said.

"The agency's advice was received 76 days later upon follow-up from the shipping agent hence the delay should not be attributed to the negligence of officers involved."

The report also noted the port's charges for the uncleared container amounted to $48,984.60 and was paid on March 24, 2016.

This newspaper posed questions to Health Minister Rosy Akbar on what medicine the container was carrying and whether any had expired while the container was at the wharf.

She was also asked whether the 253-day delay at the wharf attributed to the shortage of drugs and medicine in 2015 and 2016 and if the ministry had taken staff to task over the issue.

However, in response, the ministry's permanent secretary Philip Davies said the OAG report related to the Ministry of Economy's FPO and indicated they were responsible for the charges incurred.

"This is therefore a matter for FPO to address as the agency responsible. It is not appropriate for the Ministry of Health & Medical Services to comment on this matter. "

In the OAG report, the Ministry of Economy said it was putting in place strategies to ensure the incident was not repeated.

"The bond checking has been reintroduced whereby stakeholders and shipping agents' permission are requested for warehouses to be physically inspected for any pending government consignments that need to BE cleared."

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