China and India respond to Nepal Army’s request for supplying medical equipment and drugsThe procurement unit is studying the price lists and modes of payment, which will be forwarded to the Cabinet on Sunday, Army official says.
Officials from China and India have expressed their interest to supply medical equipment and medicine to Nepal to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
While China is ready to supply protective gear and reagents to test coronavirus cases, India has agreed to provide medicines such as hydroxychloroquine sulphate.
Nepal Army, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had written to officials in China, India, Singapore, South Korea and Israel requesting medical equipment and medicine needed to combat the disease.
Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey, spokesperson for the army, said that along with the two countries, South Korea had also responded to the army’s request. However, it said private companies will be involved in the supply. Israel and Singapore, however, did not respond.
The national defence force made the calls after the government authorised it to import medical items under a government-to-government (G2G) deal. The government on April 2 had authorised the army to procure these items, after an earlier procurement deal with a private company landed in controversy. Though the army lacks the expertise and legal mandate to carry out such an operation, the KP Sharma Oli government granted it the authority to carry out the procurement.
Pandey said the purchase will be done directly at the G2G level without the involvement of third parties.
“The procurement unit is studying the price lists and modes of payment, which will be forwarded to the Cabinet on Sunday for the approval,” he told the Post. The procurement process will begin after receiving a green signal from the Cabinet, Pandey said.
The procurement unit is led by a major general and has representatives from the defence and health ministries and the Department of Health.
The army has sent a proposal to the interested countries to supply 34-different items under four categories—critical priority, priority 1, priority 2 and priority 3. Personal protective equipment, testing reagents and other protective gears are under the critical priority. The items under the critical priority will be imported in the first phase.
According to Pandey India will send only medicine only. Most of the equipment to combat the Covid-19 pandemic will come from China.
Earlier, the health ministry had awarded a tender to Omni Business Corporate International, a private company to procure medical equipment worth more than $10 million from China. But the process of awarding the tender had been widely criticised as questions were raised over the quality of the Chinese-made materials and their prices. Following the controversy, the ministry had scrapped the tender and authorised the army to do the job.
The army said it isn’t worried about the quality of equipment coming from China as the deal is being sealed between governments.