FCID questions National Blood Transfusion Service Director

Over alleged irregularities in some development projects


Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) sleuths questioned the director of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) last week over alleged irregularities in certain development projects undertaken by this key government sector health institution.

During three hours of interrogation, Dr. Anil Dissanayake was asked about how funds were disbursed, minutes of meetings convened and the individuals responsible for decisions in relation to the projects, officials said.

The director had told the detectives that the projects were launched before his tenure and after assuming duties as the head of the institution, the work continued under his leadership.

Allegations of malpractices leveled against two turnkey, unsolicited 60 million Euro projects under a credit facility granted to the NBTS by The Netherlands, is believed to have triggered the FCID probe, the officials asserted.

In a surprise move, the NBTS, which earlier functioned under the purview of the Deputy Director General (DDG) in charge of Laboratory Services was placed under the jurisdiction of a Health Ministry panjandrum during the former regime, they recalled. "The then health secretary giving in to this demand raised eyebrows".

Asked on what lines the FCID questioned him, Dr. Dissanayake was initially reluctant to comment on the issue, but later said that the investigators asked him about the structure and composition of the NBTS and its relationship to the Health Ministry.

When queried whether the questioning also revolved around allegations of corruption pertaining to the two multi-million Euro projects, the director said "he is in the midst of a meeting" and disconnected the call.

It was not immediately clear whether NBTS will revert as an institution under Laboratory Services in terms of its administrative mandate, as the bureaucrat who canvassed and secured the top position retired early this month, the officials said.

However, before the FCID investigation was launched, there was speculation that the bureaucrat concerned was vying for an extension of service, or in the alternative, a WHO posting to oversee the two projects, where frequent overseas junkets is a bonanza, they asserted.

Questions have also been raised over costs relating to the computerization of the blood transfusion service and the purchase of medical equipment worth millions of rupees, the officials said, while stressing on the need for an audit to clear the air.

It is alleged that certain medical equipment has been procured without proper technical knowledge and guidelines. Amongst them are blood warmers, which are more suitable for countries with cold climates. They are rarely used in certain disease conditions in Sri Lanka.

It has also come to light that costly medical appliances had been hastily imported under this project when the Blood Bank building at Narahenpita itself remains incomplete and cannot accommodate the equipment, the officials asserted.

Valuable equipment ran the risk of being ruined as they are being stored sans the specified temperature, they warned.

As funding for the procurement of this medical equipment is through a credit facility, the money has to be repaid, they said.

The officials also complained of the lack of a cohesive plan which has led to Blood Banks being built haphazardly in many parts of the country. "The Mahiyangana complex is a case in point as it is now being used for other purposes".


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