Health Dept officials give scant regard to Veena George's order to stop glove import

Kerala Health Minister Veena George
Kerala Health Minister Veena George

Kozhikode: A section of the Health Department officials in Kerala are understood to have ignored the directives of even Health Minister Veena George over the controversial import of gloves through the Kerala Medical Services Corporation for an amount of Rs 12.15 crore.

The officials continued with the import of the gloves, ignoring the health minister's strict instructions to cancel the import from England, done without inviting tenders, and procure gloves from the domestic market.

It is also learnt that the minister was not informed of the decision to clear the pending bills of the suppliers.

It was during last March-May period that the preliminary discussions on gloves import were held. The decision to import gloves was arrived at amidst Assembly polls by pointing out that there was an emergency need for gloves. An order for purchasing one crore gloves was given to a supplier from Kazhakootam on May 31, without inviting tenders.

Though the government issued an order on May 27, fixing Rs 5.75 as the maximum rate of a glove, the import order was given for a rate of Rs 12.15 per piece. The main agreement was that half of the total purchase amount should be given as advance. As per this agreement, Rs.6.07 crore was given to the supplier by the government.

On June 16, 20 lakh gloves were supplied. Though the assurance by the supplier was that 60 lakh gloves would be supplied by June 28, only 21.6 lakh pieces were supplied. But when the shortage was felt again for gloves in the State, the Corporation decided to purchase it from the domestic market.

When controversy erupted over the non-receipt of at least half of the gloves ordered through imports, the Left Democratic Front Government, after taking over the seat of power for a second time, ordered the immediate freezing of any further imports. The government also conveyed its displeasure to the officials over the manner in which the purchase was undertaken.

But giving scant regard to all these objections, the officials gave permission to import the remaining 58.40 lakh gloves. The Health Secretary has now issued orders for the payment of this purchase.

When asked about the controversy, Health Minister Veena George said that the government gave a directive to freeze the imports and would look into what had transpired thereafter.

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