15 July, 2017, 12:00 am
AN unclaimed container of medicine was left at the Port of Suva for 253 days before it was finally cleared, according to the 2016 Auditor-General’s Report (FT 14/7).
The container was consigned for the Fiji Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Services and supposed to be cleared by the Ministry of Economy’s Fiji Procurement Office (FPO).
It did not happen.
The Ministry of Economy claims ministries and departments responsible for inbound consignments need to advise FPO upon receipt of arrival notice. It did not happen.
The responsible agency did advise – only 76 days later – and the Ministry of Economy clarified that the blunder should not be attributed to the negligence of its officers involved.
The Auditor-General’s Report also noted the port’s charges for the uncleared container amounted to almost $50k, which was paid in March 2016. By who?
During that period, the Health Ministry made public that there was a shortage of medicine in Fiji.
The Fiji Times posed questions to the Health Minister regarding this issue (FT 14/7).
However, the Health Ministry’s permanent secretary said the Ministry of Economy was responsible for the “charges incurred”.
The Health Ministry would not even comment on how this misunderstanding between two ministries and/or agencies would have affected the ordinary people.
“It is not appropriate for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to comment on the matter,” its permanent secretary said.
The Ministry of Economy stated it was putting in place strategies to ensure the incident was not repeated.
How did it happen in the first place?
Here’s the thing. A container of medicine was left at the Port of Suva for 253 days. The Ministry of Economy is not responsible. The Health Ministry is not responsible.
Who is responsible?