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PAC report lays bare medical gas cylinders ‘scam’ at GMC

NT NETWORK

PANAJI

The public accounts committee has found gross ‘irregularities’ and serious ‘lapses’ in the billing and monitoring of the medical gases supplied to the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim.

The committee report has said that there was an abnormal increase in the consumption of medical gases and significant variation in the quantities of oxygen indicated as received by the security and administrative staff of the hospital. The GMC invited tenders

in March 2010 for the “supply, installation, and commissioning of medical gases”.  Out of the three offers received, M/s Scoop India Pvt Ltd, Corlim, was assessed as the lowest bidder at Rs 52.61 lakh in spite of its failure to quote for the maintenance cost, as was required in the tender.

The purchase committee recommended in September 2010 acceptance of the offer of M/s Scoop India Pvt Ltd.  Administrative approval and expenditure sanction for the supply of medical gases at a cost of Rs 52.61 lakh for a period of one year was granted by the government in November 2010.

Accordingly, supply order was issued in December 2010 to M/s Scoop India Pvt Ltd, the report has said.

However, on scrutiny of the supply and billing records, auditors observed that oxygen was being supplied by M/s Scoop India Pvt Ltd in trolleys fitted with 48 cylinders, whereas the estimate for the supply of medical gases to the GMC was for 42 trolleys of medical oxygen per month, which worked out to not more than 1.5 trolleys per day. It was, however, seen that invoices were raised for three to four trolleys per day and the same were certified as received by the GMC.

The invoices indicated that three to four trolleys with the same set of 48 oxygen cylinders were supplied to the GMC on consecutive days, the committee has found.

The report has also revealed that the entries in the register for consumption of oxygen indicated that 48 cylinders fitted to a trolley were shown as consumed in 12 hours on all days. The consumption of oxygen in 12 hours on all days raised doubts on the method of recording of consumption of oxygen.

After this was pointed in audit in December 2012, the GMC register showed that exhaustion of oxygen went up from 12 hours to 16 and then to 24 hours per day from January 2013.

The report further states that entry and exit of the trolleys carrying the oxygen cylinders were recorded in a register by the security staff at the GMC gate. The entries in the register of March 2011 were verified and based on this examination it was found that on an average; only two trolleys entered the GMC premises daily.

The contract amount of Rs 52.61 lakh was stated to have been worked out by the GMC for the estimated quantity of medical gases required for one year. However, for the period between December 23, 2010 and December 31, 2011, the actual amount paid to M/s Scoop India Pvt Ltd on this account was Rs 1.14 crore which was over 117 per cent above of the estimated expenditure, the PAC report has said.

The matter was referred to the government in June 2013 and the GMC replied in July 2013 clarifying that at the time of tendering, the probable requirement of oxygen cylinders was worked out based on the consumption at that point of time. The consumption varied based on requirement at the hospital, and the trolleys entering the main manifold room through another entrance were not verified at the main gate. It was informed that the security staff stationed at the main manifold room entrance verified and received the same.

The reply of the GMC authorities was not accepted by the committee as the requirement of oxygen was estimated based on the previous consumption of the hospital. Furthermore, the claim that the cylinders received at the manifold room were checked by the security staff posted there also was not accepted as no records were produced to substantiate the claim.

The committee has pointed out that if the trolleys entered the manifold room through another entrance other than the main gate without checks then there exists a security breach which has to be plugged at the earliest.

The committee has found that although two trolleys were received, the billing was for three-four trolleys per day. It also found inconsistency in the receiving of the trolleys and the rejected the claim that the trolleys were received at two different access points. The committee has pointed out that this claim itself was a major lapse in security and transparency.

The PAC has recommended a proactive approach to the issue by the concerned officials who should be held personally accountable, and it has to be ensured that all loopholes are plugged.

Also, timely maintenance has been advised so as to avoid losses through leakages.

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