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MOLNUPIRAVIR -- Primary Sources for the Procurement Scandal – and What Program Necessary

16.12.2021

We have prepared direct quotations from Hansard for our website readers on the Molnupiravir procurement scandal. We hope everyone is interested to read the direct quotes. And we hope that our LALIT conclusion at the end of the article brings light on the darkness of the moment.    


Hansard 9 November


In his PNQ, Opposition Leader Xavier Luc Duval (XLD), as part of a question about deaths of vaccinated Covid patients, asked the Health Minister, Dr Jagutpal “... if “Molnupiravir [is] available at his Ministry and, if so, indicate the quantities of each drug in stock today”, the Health Minister replied: “These drugs are not available on the local market and even on the international market ... Mauritius is the second country after UK to have approved the treatment of COVID-19 patients with [  ] Monupiravir” and “this is a newly developed anti-viral .. not yet been commercialized.”


But the context is all: The Opposition Leader’s main thrust was this, and we quote: “How does the Hon. Minister reconcile indeed ... that the more that we vaccinate, the more people are dying?” and again “Nevertheless, ... the more that you vaccinate, the more people are dying”, “Do you not have the right medicine to treat people?” “Why are more people dying today?” “Sir, I want to come to the disaster concerning ordering of medicine.” So, the pressure the Opposition Leader is putting on the Minister is in favour of treatment for Covid and against vaccination for Covid. He is accusing the Minister of causing the deaths by vaccinating instead of treating. This kind of campaign, in turn, causes the little mafias around purchasing contracts, to prick up their ears and prepare to strike.


XLD: “Sir, I want to come to the disaster concerning ordering of medicine. ... Many, many countries have pre-ordered: countries like Australia, Malaysia, USA, Singapore, all these have pre-ordered. In Mauritius, zero pre-order, Mr Deputy Speaker. That is what the Mauritian people rightly call incompetence.  ... People are dying because he is not giving the right medication and the right treatment in Mauritius. This is why people are dying and that is a truth. ... Has the Ministry of Health Issued any pre-order? ... Knowing that we are at higher [diabetes] risk than any country, you do not buy medicine or you do not pre-order any medicine?”


It is clear that the pressure is on to buy “medicine” for “treatment”.


Hansard Friday 19 Nov 2021... Minister: “letters of award have been issued for the procurement of Molnupiravir.” 


So, procurement is under way.


Hansard 23 Nov Statement by Minister:


The Health Minister makes a statement, and the details begin to emerge:


“Molnupiravir:
“Import authorisation has been granted to 5 pharmaceutical wholesalers for the supply of Molnupiravir (available in 200 mg, 400 mg and 800 mg).
“The total quantity approved for import is 30,000 treatment doses.
“Three other pharmacy wholesalers have expressed their intention to import the drug and their application is currently being awaited for processing.
“A Contract has been awarded for the supply of 1,200,000 Molnupiravir.”


Hansard 10 Dec: Oral answer to PNQ:


When you read this, you will find that the Minister is unable to explain the procurement of Molnupiravir – his answers are full of irrational purchases, and irrational amounts, and irrational dates of delivery, as is his later “Statement” when he tried to make more sense, but does not succeed. 


You will also note that, although Opposition Leader Duval has built up a good line of argument, it is as though his allies are all sabotaging his carefully prepared PNQ as disorder erupts again and again in the House, until during the PNQ there are two expulsions [MMM leader and Shakeel Mohamed of the Labour Party] and during the Minister’s Statement, the whole Opposition does a walk-out. It is as though they distract from the seriousness of the subject, and even of the exposure of serious irregularities. 


Xavier Duval asks for details of “quantities of ... Molnupiravir presently in stock at his Ministry, giving details of orders placed and delivery dates thereof?”


Minister: “ ... I wish to inform the House that Molnupiravir is the first drug having a significant impact on the reduction of hospitalisation and death of COVID-19 patients by 30%. ... ...Mr Speaker, Sir, with regard to Molnupiravir capsules, following a correspondence dated 25 October 2021 from Dr. Reddy’s Manufacturing Company, to the effect that it had been granted the licence by MERCK to manufacture Molnupiravir, a first order of 1,200,000 capsules (for treatment of 30,000 patients) was made to the company. We were informed that the expected time of delivery was 2nd to 3rd week of December 2021. However, a request has been made with the supplier to expedite delivery and the consignment is expected today.


“In anticipation of a probable increase in COVID-19 patients, as from 24 November 2021 my Ministry sought quotations for the immediate supply of 800,000 capsules for 20,000 patients from all 5 Registered Suppliers in India, namely Hetero, Sun Pharma, CIPLA, Dr. Reddy’s and EMCURE, having the license to produce generic Molnupiravir by MERCK. Consequently, new orders were placed and, on 07 December 2021, my Ministry received a consignment of 1 million Molnupiravir capsules from CPN Distributors Ltd in Mauritius. Another consignment of 800,000 capsules from Pharmacie Seegobin Ltd is awaited by 15 December 2021.”


Mr X. L. Duval: “Thank you. Now, I will go directly to the purchase of Molnupiravir because believe it or not, the Minister has not given the information to the House. ... Mr Speaker, Sir, on 06 December, following a restricted bidding - and I will table the letter of award - the Ministry of Health buys 800,000 pills of Molnupiravir for Rs9.30, coming to Rs7 m. On the next day, Mr Speaker, Sir, the Ministry receives an unsolicited bid offer from a new company called CPN Distributors Ltd for one million, nearly, Molnupiravir tablets; the same. This time, Mr Speaker, Sir, instead of Rs9.30, the price is Rs79.90. Rs70 more ...”


(Interruptions)


“... for one million tablets, Mr Speaker, Sir! Multiply! Rs70 m. straight in the pocket! Mr Speaker, Sir, unsolicited bid, on the same day, the Ministry acknowledges and accepts that offer from CPN Distributors Ltd. I want to ask the hon. Minister why, within 24 hours, he buys substantial –


“(i) under restricted bidding, which we accept, for Rs9, and
“(ii) under direct procurement for Rs70 more per pill for 1 million pills?
“That is my question.”


Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, with regard to the number of medication that has been supplied to the Ministry, we should also look at the time. Mr Speaker, Sir, is it that we should wait for the medication to be received in Mauritius ...”



(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Order!
Dr. Jagutpal: ... at a later time, when we know ...
Mr Speaker: Let the Minister reply!


Dr. Jagutpal: ... “that there are so many persons being tested positive? Mr Speaker, Sir, if this medication would not have been made available to the Mauritian patients, to the public, the Leader of the Opposition would have come with the question, telling me: ‘Since this medication has already been made available in Mauritius, there are companies which are supplying the medication, why has the Ministry not procured the medication immediately, knowing that the number of deaths are increasing?’ There is no answer for ...”


(Interruptions)


 Mr Mohamed: Resign!


Mr Speaker: Order! What ‘resign’?
Mr Mohamed: Not you!
Mr Speaker: Not you!
Mr Mohamed: Not me, no!
Mr Speaker: Yes, nobody else!
Mr Mohamed: Okay, thank you.
Mr Speaker: Quiet! You don’t have the floor!
Mr Mohamed: Not yet.
Mr Speaker: Please continue!


Dr. Jagutpal: “The same has happened for the other drug called Tocilizumab. Mr Speaker, Sir, at this point, be it for vaccines, be it for medication, be it for this medication also, it is a question of availability in a timely manner. Now, the Leader of Opposition’s question is also Omicron. It is of an Omicron nature because he see s everything negative in whatever we are doing. This medication ...”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: You are interrupting the proceedings of the House. This is the last warning! Continue!
Mr Mohamed: Am I? I do apologise, Sir. I apologise.
Mr Speaker: You apologise?
Mr Mohamed: Yes.
Mr Speaker: Thank you.



Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, can you imagine if those companies which have already given their approval that they will supply the Ministry do not supply the Ministry on time, what he would have said? That we have not purchased the medication and we are not providing the medication to the patients. He has been using the same argument for the vaccine.”
 


 (Interruptions)


 Dr. Jagutpal: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is the same argument because...


Mr Speaker: Just wait! I will give my ruling and it should be final. If you are asking for a point of order, the permission of the House, through the Speaker, you should say: “Mr Speaker, Sir, on a point of order.” Okay? Not Mr Speaker! Mr Speaker! Mr Speaker!


Continue!



Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, does he know how much we are paying for the sequencing tests? If ever the sequencing tests...”


(Interruptions)


“Mr Speaker, Sir, it’s hard to hear.”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: You don’t have the floor!


Dr. Jagutpal: It’s hard to hear because all the...


(Interruptions)


An hon. Member: You have the floor!


Mr Speaker: Of course! This is the first time I hear something interesting from you! I have the floor; you don’t have the floor! Please!


Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, it is the same argument. Be it for the vaccines, be it for the procurement of the PCR tests, be it for the procurement of the reagents, it is the same argument. At one time ...”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker, Sir, at one time...
Mr Speaker: Please, wait! Apologise for that!
Mr X. L. Duval: My mouth moved?
Mr Speaker: Yes!
Mr X. L. Duval: You saw?
Mr Speaker: Yes!
Mr X. L. Duval: I apologise for that.
Mr Speaker: Yes!



(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Forget about me! You have no floor!
Mr X. L. Duval: I apologise to you, Sir.
Mr Speaker: Hon. Bérenger, don’t talk to me!
Mr X. L. Duval: It’s done.


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Asize twa!
Mr X. L. Duval: It’s done. I apologise.


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Yes! Yes!
Mr X. L. Duval: I apologise; third time.
Mr Speaker: I am telling you, on two occasions, I saw you say ‘to pas honte?’ So, I am telling you the words. You withdraw the words.
Mr X. L. Duval: I am telling you that I apologised three times already.
Mr Speaker: Ah, thank you!
Mr X. L. Duval: My God!
Mr Speaker: Ah!
Mr Bérenger: Met serye do!
Mr Speaker: Don’t do that again with me!


(Interruptions)
I am ordering you out! I am ordering you out!
Mr Bérenger: Shame on you!
Mr Speaker: I am ordering you out!


(Interruptions)


An hon. Member: Dehors!


(Interruptions)


Mr Bérenger: Pren lord ar...
Mr Speaker: Out! I am ordering you out!
Mr Bérenger: Imbécile! Bachara!


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: I am naming you!
Mr Bérenger: Name me!
Mr Speaker: Yes, I am naming you. Sergeant at arms!


(Interruptions)


You continue with your reply.


 Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, I will just complete my reply by saying: on the basis of immediate delivery, for lifesaving reasons, we have procured this medication and this medication is to save life. That is all I have to sa y. We have to remind the House that what the Leader of Opposition is saying is that we should not have given this medication in a timely manner. C’est tout.”


Mr X. L. Duval: “Mr Speaker, Sir, I will refer now to the Public Procurement (Agreement on Government Procurement) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, which was just approved by Cabinet a few weeks ago, and this is what it says for direct procurement, Section 5(c): that, in the following order of hierarchy, this is what the Minister should have done -


“Firstly extend or modify an ongoing contract. There was an ongoing contract for Rs9 from Mauritius Pharmacy for this product. He did not do so, Mr Speaker, Sir. Instead, he went to the last in the order of hierarchy and bought direct award due to extreme urgency. So, he flouted completely and illegally.”


 Mr Speaker: Put your question! Ask him the question!


Mr X.L. Duval: I am going to ask, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Speaker: Please!
Mr X. L. Duval: But I have to quote from this.
Mr Speaker: I am worried about the time. You have so many...
Mr X. L. Duval: “You do what you want about the time. I am going to tell you now, Mr Speaker, Sir, that Section 5(3) (c) also says that only suppliers should have a track record. And this is a brand new company which just recently received its wholesale licence. So, how is it, why is it that he himself, his SCE, his Ministry have completely flouted their own regulations which he himself approved in Cabinet two or three weeks ago?”



Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, for all the irregularities that the Leader of the Opposition is pointing out, he has to go to the authorities...”



(Interruptions)



“I am inviting him. Mr Speaker Sir, whatever he said, based on Procurement Act and all, he has to go to the authorities. He did the same in the past. He has to go and tell them that this has been irregular. Please, I am inviting you. You have to do it. In fact, you are going to help me by doing this.”


 


(Interruptions)


 Mr Speaker: This is harassment!


Mr X. L. Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir,...
Mr Speaker: Wait! This is harassment. You don’t have the right to do that again! You finished?
Dr. Jagutpal: Yes, finished.


Mr X. L. Duval: “Mr Speaker, Sir, I am going to ask the hon. Minister; given that the day before, he had awarded for 800,000 at Rs9, why, the next day, 24 hours later, he did not contact the same Mauritius Pharmacy to ask them to supply at Rs9 or Rs11 instead of Rs70 more? Why did he not contact Mauritius Pharmacy the next day or any of the other suppliers? Because the price that has been quoted by CPN - and we know who CPN is; we know who CPN distributors are. Now, these people...”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Hon. Juman!


Mr X. L. Duval: “I will submit the bidding, Mr Speaker, Sir. The price that he has paid is far higher than any of the 5 bids that were received. So, why did none of these companies get to supply the one million?



Mr Speaker: Okay, you made your point. Please!


Dr. Jagutpal: Mr Speaker, Sir, he should have listened to my reply properly. The different companies which have been awarded the medication to be supplied to the Ministry, I have already stated it in my reply and at the same time, it was a question of time. The other companies have not been able to supply it immediately. It is, I think, this company only which has given its approval. The award of 800,000 could not be supplied earlier. Those companies have already informed the Ministry and we did not want to delay supply. So, that is why this company has been given the award.”


Mr X. L. Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir, I will inform the House that, tomorrow, you can go to any pharmacy and buy this pill at Rs50. So, he has just bought it at Rs79. Now, I ask the Minister this question: who gives the permit to buy Molnupiravir except his Ministry itself? So, no other supplier in Mauritius was given a permit to import sufficient amounts. It is only CPN, a new company of Montagne Longue, which happened to have one million in stock, very proudly announced, I think, by the Prime Minister, a few days ago.” 


 Mr Speaker: The question is clear.


 Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, I have to remind the House that the Mauritius Pharmacy will supply only by 15 December. So, the drug has not been supplied yet in Mauritius whereas CPN has already supplied the drug, which is already being used to save patients’ lives. Mr X. L. Duval: As I mentioned, Mr Speaker, Sir, they were the only people allowed to import the drugs in such quantity, and he will have to answer why nobody else was allowed to import. And by luck, the next day - how can he explain this - he received an unsolicited bid after just having bought 800,000 which is coming. And I mentioned, Mr Speaker, Sir, that, tomorrow - this drug is widely on sale.”


Mr Speaker: No. Put question. You have the time to put questions and you are giving statement and statement. You are the loser!


Mr X. L. Duval: I am?
Mr Speaker: Put question!



Mr X. L. Duval: “Well, maybe we will lose together. The whole of Mauritius will lose together. We are going to lose at least Rs70 m. in this transaction, Mr Speaker, Sir. And this smells bad, M r Speaker, Sir. This stinks from here to Emmanuel Anquetil Building. So, I am going to ask the hon. Minister why only CPN got the permission to import 1 million whereas other reputable companies had their imports severely curtailed?”


Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, I will again refer to my reply, that on 24 November, my Ministry sought quotations for immediate supply of these medications from all five registered suppliers in India. The order was placed. Mr Speaker, Sir, for all companies that have been approached, the Ministry has given them authorisation. The authorisation was given to all the companies.”


Mr X. L. Duval: No, that is not true!
Mr Speaker: Wait for the reply!


Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, all companies have been given the authorisation. Again, I repeat it. So, all these companies have been given the authorisation to import the drugs.”


Mr X. L. Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir, I will ask the Minister to table the authorisation given and the quantities because they are for quantities and he should not play around with the quantities.


Mr Speaker: Sure! Last question!
Mr X. L. Duval: Last question already?


Mr Speaker: Yes, sure! Five minutes gone...
Mr X. L. Duval: Only?
Mr Speaker: I told you; use your time for questions!


Mr X. L. Duval: “Mr Speaker, Sir, yesterday was the International Day for Anti- Corruption. I want to ask the Minister if he has taken note of this poster which says ‘zordi koripsion, demin prizon.’ I will ask the hon. Minister, and through him to the Prime Minister, to grant a Select Committee of MPs to look at the whole dirty process of procurement by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and Government since last year, where billions of rupees of public funds have been siphoned off!”



Mr Speaker: No, you have already talked! No! You are going outside your time. You asked for a Select Committee; this is a question. I order that. But if there is any reply, you give your reply.”


Dr. Jagutpal: Mr Speaker, Sir, firstly, I will give my reply. Whatever allegations he is making now, he should go outside and make his allegations, be it to the Police, be it to ICAC. Do it in transparency so that a proper investigation will be done. I am inviting him! I wish to know! What he has done, last year, same was done. I am also expecting to know what is happening. I will be proud to know what is happening. Secondly, the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee are there for that.”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Wait!


Dr. Jagutpal: He was the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee. He had ample time to ask all questions and whatever procurement was being done at the Ministry. It is the same lecture that the Leader of the Opposition is trying to deliver. Mr Speaker, Sir, the Public Accounts Committee is there to have all the answers. Whatever you wish to ask me through PQs, PNQs, I am ready to table and to give the answers. Even the documents that you asked to table, I will table it shortly.”



Mr Speaker: Time over by seven minutes.”


[.... Same day, 10 Dec – interrupt debate on a Bill]


STATEMENT BY MINISTER


MOLNUPIRAVIR - TENDERING EXERCISE


The Minister of Health and Wellness (Dr. K. Jagutpal) : “Mr Speaker, Sir,  with your permission, I wish to make an urgent Statement in the public interest in regard to the tendering exercise for the procurement of Molnupiravir in order to dissipate any misunderstanding by the members of the public at large. Mr Speaker, Sir, the first tendering exercise for procurement of Molnupiravir: on 25 October 2021, Mr Alok Kumar, representative of Dr. Reddy informed the Ministry that he would  be in Mauritius from 27 October 2021 to 02 November 2021. He informed that Dr. Reddy is a leading pharmaceutical company from India and collaborated with major companies like RDIF for Sputnik V, Gilead for Ramdesivir, MSD for Molnupiravir and Fujifilm for Favipiravir to service these important products to overcome COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Alok requested for an appointment to discuss the supply of Molnupiravir. I am tabling the papers on above statement. On 29 October 2021, a meeting was scheduled with Mr Alok and officials of my Ministry. Mr Alok informed that Dr. Reddy’s laboratory had obtained authorisation to manufacture Molnupiravir under licence with Merck. He informed that in case the Ministry required the drug, a formal request on the quantity required needed to be made in order to enable it to start manufacture the drug. Mr Speaker, Sir, on 12 November 2021, Mr Alok Kumar informed the Ministry that Molnupiravir had obtained UK NHRA. He also informed that Merck USA had authorised Dr. Reddy to supply the drug to Mauritius. On 14 November 2021, the Ministry requested Dr. Reddy to inform about the earliest delivery and other terms and conditions. On 14 November 2021 again, Dr. Reddy informed that it was proposing two options –
“(i) either to supply the drug directly or,
“(ii) through their local representative, Hyperpharm.
“In both cases, the delivery would be by 4th week of December 2021...”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Last warning!


Dr. Jagutpal: “...and the price would be USD 1.3 per capsule. My Ministry opted for the option to provide the drugs directly from Dr. Reddy and not from the local representative Hyperpharm Ltd. The laboratory also proposed to organise training programme for healthcare staff. Mr Speaker, Sir, on 25 November 2021, Mr Alok Kumar informed the Ministry that Molnupiravir had received WHO treatment protocol on 15 November 2021. Moreover, as the drug had not yet been approved in India and the company manufacturing same had to obtain special export permit from CDSCO for export to Mauritius. It is confirmed that the drug would reach Mauritius around 25 December 2021. At our request for earlier delivery, the company agreed to expedite the delivery as at 10 December 2021. As at now, no confirmation has been received and the latest information from Dr. Reddy is that the drug will be available on 25 December 2021. On 10 December 2021, Dr. Reddy has informed that it will be organising a scientific event from 19 to 21 December 2021 at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel to discuss drug development, clinical trial, approvals, safety profile and other medical aspect.



“Mr Speaker, Sir, the second tendering exercise for procurement of Molnupiravir: on 15 November 2021, Dr. R.R, Consultant in Charge, Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis, requested for an immediate purchase of Molnupiravir for 30,000 patients. The same request was again made on 24 November 2021. I am tabling the papers for the above statement.”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: You do not have to interrupt the proceedings of the House! And this is the last warning! Please, continue!


Dr. Jagutpal: “Mr Speaker, Sir, on 25 November 2021, Mr Naeck, the Principal Pharmacist, informed that there were 5 manufacturers in India who could supply the drug. Restricted bidding was sought from the local representatives of these manufacturers for the supply of 800,000 doses of Molnupiravir.
“On 26 November 2021, 4 bidders submitted quotations as follows –
“(i) IBL Ltd - Rs36,900,000.00
“(ii) Trident Healthcare - Rs26,000,000.00
“(iii) Hyperpharm - Rs59,200,000.00
“(iv) Mauritius Pharmacy - Rs7,446,000.00


 


“On 06 December 2021, the contract was awarded for the supply of 800,000 doses of Molnupiravir for the total amount of Rs7,446,000.00 with delivery date within 15 days as from the letter of award. I am tabling the papers on the above statement. Mr Speaker, Sir, for the last week of November and first week of December 2021, the factual figures provided on a daily basis from all regional hospitals and the ENT Hospital on bed occupancy and the number of death were on the increasing side and that the request of Dr. R. was for the procurement of 1,200,000 Capsules (30,000 patients x 40 doses). My Ministry decided to seek other sources for Molnupiravir. Again, I am tabling the paper for the above statement.


“The third tendering exercise for procurement of Molnupiravir, on 07 December 2021, a proforma invoice was requested from CPN Distributors for the immediate supply of 1,000,000 doses of a generic version of Molnupiravir. CPN Distributors is a wholesaler/distributor situated at Saint Georges Street, Port Louis and having a sub-office at Long Mountain. The CEO is Mr A. C. and the Pharmacist in charge is Mr S. S. incorporated at Company Division since March 2017, registered as wholesaler with Pharmacy Board since 29 July 2021 under the Pharmacy Act. It is not an unsolicited bid but he did inform the Ministry that he has Molnupiravir. He submitted a proposal following request for pro forma invoice for immediate delivery as per usual practice. Again, I am tabling the papers for the above statement. Mr Speaker, Sir, 07 December 2021, CPN Distributors submitted its pro forma invoice for the supply of 999,000 doses of Molcovir (Generic version of Molnupiravir) at the rate of Rs79.92 and for the total amount of Rs79,840,080. The letter of award was issued on the same day. Again, I am tabling the papers for above statement. It is a regulatory authority in India which authorises the export of the drug and this is why CPN Distributors Ltd. can deliver 1,000,000 doses as opposed to 1.2 million requested by Dr. R. I have to inform the House that the expiry date is linked to the manufacturing batch number. The earlier the manufacturing date, the expiry date also will be earlier. Hence, the drug supplied by CPN Distributors Ltd. bears an expiry date earlier than that of Mauritius Pharmacy which has not yet been received.


“Mr Speaker, Sir, for the emergency procurement under PPA and Directives No. 60, my Ministry has followed the procedures laid down in Section 21 of the Public Procurement Act and Regulation 5C of the Public Procurement (Amendment) Regulation 21. In fact, my Ministry has acted in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 5C (1) which stipulates that – ‘Subject to Section 21 of the Act, where public interest demands the emergency procurement of any goods, works, consultancy services, the Chief executive Officer of the public body shall evaluate the need for the emergency procurement and decide in the manner to proceed in order...’”


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: Please withdraw from the Chamber!


An hon. Member: Ki pu withdraw? Nou aler do ta!
Mr Speaker: You were waiting for that! You were waiting for that!


(Interruptions)
You were waiting for that!


Mr Mohamed: Protect them! Keep on protecting them!
Mr Speaker: And I will name you if you continue.
(Interruptions)
I will name you if you continue.
(Interruptions)
You were waiting for this!
(Interruptions)
Mr Mohamed: You are protecting him! You are a goalkeeper, and a very bad one!
Mr Speaker: I am naming you!
Mr Mohamed: You should be ashamed of yourself!
Mr Speaker: I am naming you!


 


(interruptions)


I am naming you!
(Interruptions)
An hon. Member: Bachara!
(Interruptions)
Mr Speaker: Wait! Wait!


(Interruptions)


Mr Speaker: “Hon. Members, order! You have seen the Opposition provoking, and since this morning I am talking to the House, to the whole Chamber and the population at large. This cannot continue. The Opposition has to take its responsibility in the House. Please continue!”



Dr. Jagutpal: “Furthermore, Regulation 5 C (2) (e) and (f) also stipulate that the Ministry may have recourse to direct award due to absence of competition or due to extreme urgency. The situation was one of extreme urgency as we had to save the lives of COVID -19 infected patients, who would otherwise have died. Still, in line with the provision of Regulation 5C (3) (a), my Ministry had to have recourse to emergency procurement in order to efficiently and effectively give treatment to COVID-19 patients who would otherwise have had no such treatment. Finally, my Ministry has followed the provisions of Directive No 60 issued by the PPO on 30 November 2021. In fact, given the exceptional circumstances, my Ministry had no option but to have recourse to provisions of extreme urgency to procure this essential drug which has proved its efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients by reducing cases of hospitalisation, oxygen support and eventually deaths by more than 30%. Again, I am tabling the statement for above. I thank you, Mr Speaker, Sir.”


Mr Speaker: I will suspend the Sitting for one and a half hour.


Conclusion drawn by LALIT


It is important that the National Assembly, our elected members of Parliament, become the democratic assembly they are supposed to be. For this to happen, two changes are necessary: the elected legislature must get more power of oversight over the executive – like permanent select committees on nominations and, to the point here, on purchasing, and that the people must get more power over the elected members by, we propose, the right of recall by electoral petition.


 In times of crises like those we are in today, the broad masses of the people become interested in – even experts on – difficult and usually boring subjects like government procurement. So, in moments of crisis, as well as all the distress, there are also moments of opportunity for positive change. For example, we have learnt that a Minister can go on to the airport tarmac to receive an order of Vaccines direct – without relying on the private sector – and in fact, with democratic control over the executive, as we propose, there is no reason for all emergency procurement – and indeed all government procurement – to be done directly through a state agency. The private sector was quoting from Rs9.30 and Rs79.90 for a million each of the same pill. The three other quotations in-between were all for over Rs26, Rs 37 and Rs 59 per pill, meaning there is something rotten in the state of capitalism. A democratic government should be able to buy direct, with proper oversight by elected MPs, who are watched by their electors who can revoke them.


LALIT