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Medical supply procurement under COPA microscope

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Rs.10.2 million worth of medical supplies (over 4,600 items) had been purchased from 2011 to 2016 without the recommendation of the Formulary Revision Committee, the Committee on Parliamentary Accounts (COPA) has found.

Parliament sources said on Friday that the irregularity was uncovered at a Prof. Tissa Vitarana chaired meeting on Wednesday to review the Auditor General’s Special Audit Report dated March 14, 2018 on the Medical Supply Process carried out by the Medical Supplies Division of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine.

Parliament sourced said that it was revealed that although the number of medical supplies items consumed by many countries in the world was very low, 19,844 such items had been consumed in the island in 2017.

The committee also revealed that 8,945 “Trastuzumab injection 440mg with solvent in 20ml vials” called “Herticad” had been purchased from one supplier in the local market on 14 occasions in 2018 and 2019 at a cost of Rs. 891 million.

The country had to bear an additional cost of Rs. 230.9 million due to the rejection of the minimum bid in these transactions.

COPA also inquired from the Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals regarding the additional expenditure of Rs. 5,166 million during the period of 10 years from 2007 to 2016.

This situation has arisen due to the delay in the procurement process and the need to procure medical supplies from the local market to avoid the shortage of medical supplies.

The representatives of the National Audit Office pointed out that the investigation confirmed that medical supplies enter the country annually without quality confirmation and that the damage caused to patients cannot be quantified.

COPA also questioned officials regarding why no action had been taken to improve the physical and human resources status of the Drug Quality Assurance Laboratory in 2016; and why no action had been taken to improve the physical and human resources status of the Drug Quality Assurance Laboratory in 2016.

The Committee focused on a number of issues such as failure to introduce a methodology to test the quality of a sample of all purchased medical supplies; deficiencies in the recovery process for substandard medical supplies; issuance of substandard medical supplies to patients; non-printing of the emblem of Sri Lanka on medical supply containers; non-maintenance of medical supply stores; non-issuance of GRNs immediately upon receipt of medical supplies, failure to properly store and distribute medical supplies received as donations, expiration of medical supplies, non-updating of Medical Supply Management Information System (MSMIS).

State Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Prasanna Ranaweera, Members of Parliament Tissa Attanayake, Ashok Abeysinghe, Niroshan Perera, Dr. Upul Galappaththi, Cader Masthan and Weerasumana Weerasinghe were present at the meeting.

Officials from several institutions including the Ministry of Health were also present.



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Forex crisis will lead to power cuts, warns Ranil

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Udaya pooh-poohs warning

By Saman indrajith

UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the country would face power cuts soon if the government did not resolve the foreign exchange crisis urgently.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2022, the UNP leader said the forex issue could result in Sri Lanka running out of money to import fuel.

Wickremesinghe called on the government to make a statement on the current situation.

The UNP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had only Rs. 1.5 billion in foreign reserves, out of which Rs. 300 million were gold reserves, which meant only Rs. 1.2 billion was the liquid amount in foreign reserves.

The former PM said the low foreign reserves could lead to the country facing power issues in the future as there would be no funds left for fuel imports. However, the Minister of Power, Udaya Gammanpila, assured that Sri Lanka had enough fuel stocks.

The Minister said it was reasonable for people to assume that there would be power cuts in the future due to the foreign exchange crisis.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka had necessary fuel stocks, Minister Gammanpila said the fuel in hand was sufficient for the next 40 days.

Although the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery had been closed for 50 days, measures would be taken to resume operations at an early date, the Minister added, assuring that the foreign exchange crisis would not result in power cuts.

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State Minister Ranasinghe assures farmers using organic fertiliser compensation in event of losses

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Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat yesterday

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday assured that the government would compensate any paddy farmer who suffered losses due to adopting organic fertiliser.

Speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, the Minister said that even if the government had not proposed to allocate funds in the Budget proposals for possible losses to paddy farmers using organic fertiliser, funds would be obtained from a supplementary estimate for the purpose.

Ranasinghe said that it was wrong to state that the government shifted from chemical to organic fertiliser abruptly. The government had promised to do so in its election manifesto and people had approved it by giving a two-third majority of votes for that. The UNP too had planned to adopt organic fertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers some 30 years back.

The State Minister said that during the past 30 years all the governments had spent billions of rupees to increase awareness of organic fertilisers among officials and the general public. In addition, there had been numerous projects introduced with the assistance of the World Bank to promote organic cultivation in the country.

Minister Ranasinghe said that there were chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides and there was information that some traders sell them at exorbitant prices. The government would get the Consumer Affairs Authority and police to implement the law against the black marketers.

He said that some farmers had raised concern that nano-nitrogen fertiliser would be washed away owing to the heavy rains, but the government would supply that fertiliser again as it was promised by State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The meeting was attended by ministry officials and representatives of the farmers’ associations in the Polonnaruwa District.

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Arjuna quits UNP

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World Cup winning captain and former minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday quit the UNP over its failure to get its act together

Ranatunga has communicated his decision to leave the UNP to the Leader, Secretary, Deputy Leader, and the Assistant Leader of the UNP.

Ranatunga said, in a letter to the UNP leadership, that he decided to join the United National Front ahead of the 2015 presidential election to make a change for the common good.

He has said as the first step towards that objective he contested the 2015 general election and secured the highest number of votes from the Gampaha District.

Ranatunga said that when many left the party in 2020, he remained with the UNP in order to protect it.

He said in 2020 the UNP suffered a massive loss, “and what is required is to prepare a programme to overcome the present and future challenges”.

“However, as there seems to be no such preparation there appears to be no purpose in remaining with the party”, Ranatunga said.

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