OAG finds breach

THE Office of the Auditor-General has recommended the Health Ministry ensure contracts are signed before indents/purchase orders and payments are processed.

This recommendation was made after it found the ministry breached procurement regulations .

The OAG found that payments were made without contracts being signed and had issued indents/orders issued prior to signing of contracts.

The breaches amounted to $727,734.69

“In the absence of signed contracts, Government’s interests are not fully protected in case of disputes or disagreements with the suppliers.

“The ministry should ensure that contracts are signed before indents/purchase orders and payments are processed and follow up on the delivery of the pending items.”

The Ministry of Health noted the recommendations that per the Government Tender Board approval, there needed to be a legally binding contract (by both parties) vetted by the Solicitor-General’s Office.

“However, it was beyond the ministry’s control when the delay (in vetting the contract) is from the S-G’s Office and this contributed to the delay in finalising the contract document.

“Due to the urgency of the items to be procured, the long procurement process that needs to be followed for overseas procurement, the long delivery lead time, and the unidentified processing time/turnaround time of the completion/finalisation of contract from S-G’s office, the ministry went ahead and facilitated the procurement process accordingly (based on GTB approval) before the finalisation/signing of the contract document.

“This was done in good faith taking into consideration the ministry’s obligation (in providing adequate medical supplies and pharmaceutical products to health facilities) and also the ministry’s duty of care to ensure that the risk of patients losing lives (because of out of stock or late medicines) is minimised.”

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