Hot air over health ministry report on janitorial services

The controversial report of the five-member technical evaluation committee which reviewed tenders for hospital janitorial services has been handed to the Public Finance Department of the Treasury for scrutiny.

An informed spokesman for the Health Ministry’s Forum of Public Servants Against Corruption (FPSAC) said yesterday (21) that tenders had been called for the 2009 janitorial services for government hospitals. The tenders had been reviewed by the five-member technical evaluation committee chaired by an Additional Secretary of the Health Ministry. However, four members of the committee recommended the lowest bidder while the chairman himself recommended the highest, he said.

However, when the chairman of the committee requested the members to sign the report prepared by him on the final recommendation, the other members discovered that it had been made in favour of the highest bidder. They had refused to sign the document but had been informed that the orders had "come from the top," the spokesman said.

The four members - Medical Services Director, Piyasena Samarakoon, Senior Accountant, Dhammika Wickramasena, Ministry Engineer, M. Karunaratne had been reluctant to place their signature on the document. Instead they informed the Health Secretary of the situation, the spokesman said. Around a week later the Secretary had informed the members that Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva was not involved in the matter.

"The Secretary also instructed members not to sign the report. The report had not been submitted to the Health Secretary even by the beginning of this year. He demanded to see the report even though he had been informed that it included conflicting opinions, the spokesman said.

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