The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s standing committee gave its go-ahead to the controversial Rs 16.5 crore deal to buy two MRI machines despite evidence that the machines could have been purchased at a much lower rate. The civic administration however admitted that the procurement policy for its hospitals wasn’t up to the mark and needed an overhaul. The MRI machines brought from Philips Electronics India Ltd are going to be used at the Shatabdi hospitals in Kandivli and Govandi.
A probe was earlier ordered when a leading daily ran a story which showed Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Shaikh showing that the same machines could’ve been purchased for a lump sum of Rs 9.5 crore.
The BMC later clarified that the amount mentioned in the draft letter to procure the machines for its hospitals included components that were not mentioned in the quotation received by Shaikh.
The BMC assured all members that the concerns raised by the committees would be addressed. Two new developments in BMC policy are a) The tender conditions will be made public b) All vendors will be asked to sign an integrity bond, suggesting that the price offered to the civic body is the most competitive, and that they will not indulge in any malpractice.
The corporation was also slammed the body for dealing with Philips in dollars. Senior Congress leader Pravin Chheda said: “How can the civic body procure the machine in dollars? Besides, why can’t the BMC try to get an exemption on Customs duty and other taxes? Even small charitable organizations get such exemption on life-saving machines.”
The issue has brought to the fore the absence of a proper procurement policy. “When it comes to such products, there is no standard MRP. Philips had assured me that the quotation it had offered me could be negotiated. The administration should have a proper procurement policy,” said Shaikh. The civic administration maintained that negotiations would not be possible for a public agency.
Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, said: “We will consider all the suggestions when we revise our procurement policy. As far as standard scheduled rates are concerned, Tata Consulting Engineers is looking into the matter.”