ISLAMABAD: Trans-parency International-Pakistan (TI-P) has conveyed to the government that the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine is exempted from the PPRA Rules, 2004 not the PPRA Ordinance 2002, according to which Integrity Pact from the suppliers is mandatory to prevent corruption in procurement.
In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Secretary, Azam Khan, TI-P has referred to the Cabinet Division’s decision of January 13, 2021, regarding the grant of exemption from application of Public Procurement Rules 2004 and Regulations, for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine by the Ministry of National health Services, Regulations & Coordination (NHSR&C).
According to TI-P, the exemption granted to NHSR&C is only from application of PPRA Rule 2004 and regulations, and does not exempt the NHSR&C from application of the PPRA Ordinance 2002.
Under the PPRA Ordinance 2002, all the procuring agencies are required to sign Integrity Pact, as notified by Ministry of Finance in its letter of October 5, 2002, which requires the declaration of fees, commission and brokerage etc. payable by the suppliers of goods, services and works in contracts worth Rs. 10 million or more.
TI-P underscored bringing into the notice of all offices that despite the exemption granted by the Federal Government to the Ministry of NHSR&C from the operation of Public Procurement Rules, 2004 and Regulations for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry of NHS&RC will be required to sign the Integrity Pact with different companies for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine in line with the requirement under the PPRA Ordinance 2002.
Economic Coordination Committee of the Ministry of Finance in a meeting of September 23, 2002 decided that all the public sector agencies, whether attached/subordinate or autonomous working under a Ministry will always demand a certificate of the Integrity Pact while procuring goods and services worth Rs. 10 million or more.
The certificate states, “Notwithstanding any rights and remedies exercised by the Procuring Agency (PA) in this regard-the name Supplier/Contractor/Consultant] agrees to indemnify PA for any loss or damage incurred by it on account of its corrupt business practices and further pay compensation to PA in an amount equivalent to ten time the sum of any commission, gratification, bribe, finder’s fee or kickback given by [Name of Supplier/Contractor/Consultant] for the purpose of obtaining or inducing the procurement of any contract, right, interest, privilege or other obligation or benefit, in whatsoever form, from PA”. The IP certificate is also required to be checked at the time of audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan. This requirement is mandatory and to be complied with in all circumstances.
Internationally also, the issue of pharmaceutical pricing transparency has been on the agenda at the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board meetings scheduled for end of January 2021. Recently, the European Ombudsman has initiated an inquiry into the European Commission’s secrecy around its Covid-19 vaccine contracts with pharmaceutical companies and the negotiations that shaped these contracts.
Keeping in view these international best practices, the Prime Minister was requested to issue directives for compliance with rules to ensure transparency in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021