No action on defective Covid-19 ventilators following absence of written agreement: PAC

KUALA LUMPUR: The Public Accounts Committee today revealed that no action can be taken over the defective Covid-19 ventilators supplied to the government, following the absence of a written agreement between the Health Ministry (and Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd (PLSB).

In the report published on its website, PAC said PLSB was also instructed to make advance payments for ventilators following its existing relationship with the ministry, despite not having experience and expertise in medical equipment procurement.

"Due to the extraordinary circumstances faced at that time, the discussions, assessments and decisions related to the procurement of ventilators had to be conducted through WhatsApp applications due to the constraints during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

"(And) despite not having experience and expertise in medical equipment procurement, PLSB was instructed to make advance payments for ventilators following the existing relationship between the Health Ministry and PLSB.

"However, the absence of written agreement between the ministry and PLSB resulted in no party being held responsible for the failure of 104 ventilator units to function," the report said.

At the same time, PAC added that it found discrepancies between the statement provided by the ministry and PLSB relating to the warranties for all 136 ventilator units.

While documents submitted by PLSB had indicated that the warranty was provided by the supplier, PAC said the quotation documents, however, did not cover all 136 units and no acknowledgement of receipt was provided.

The committee added that the role of PLSB in the issue was also still uncertain and has also prevented any legal procedures from being conducted.

Previously, the Auditor's General Report for 2021 had revealed that only 28 of 136 ventilators produced by PLSB for the Health Ministry from 2020 to 2022 were in working order.

In terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses, PAC said there are still a total of 8.5 million vaccine doses worth RM505 million that have expired as of June 1, this year, despite expiry dates of the vaccines being extended to 18 months from the date it was produced.

"The vaccine procurement by the ministry was carried out based on demand projections.

"However, there was an excess of vaccines due to the decrease in vaccination demand, delays in receiving vaccine supplies as well as vaccine donations from foreign countries."

In April this year, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa reportedly said that nearly 2.8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses which cost around RM81.4 million had expired as of Feb 28.

She said the expired vaccine doses from various brands were stored at the ministry's facilities and storage warehouse for vaccine purposes.

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