For the past few days, the decision of the Andhra Pradesh government to order Covid19 rapid test kits from South Korea at a price higher than what it was sold to Chhattisgarh government, has caused much embarrassment. While the Korean supplier had quoted Rs 730 per kit for two lakh kits, Chhattisgarh had bought the same kits from the same company at Rs 337 per kit.
With the opposition charging that the government had in fact paid Rs 1200 per kit, an incensed Andhra Pradesh Medical Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited wrote to Sandor Medicaids, the Hyderabad-based local agency which had processed the deal and is approved by ICMR, asking it to explain the higher price. The total order had been worth Rs 14.6 crore.
What saved the day for the Andhra Pradesh government was a clause in the purchase order issued on 7 April which said “If any instance comes to the notice of the corporation that the above medical items are supplied at a lower price than price quoted now, then the differential amount will be recovered from the bills due or any other mode deemed fit.” It also mentioned the possibility of blacklisting of the firm for a period of three years or more.
This means Sandor Medicaids will have to reduce the bill amount by half. The version of the vendors has been that initially there were very few companies manufacturing these kits and hence the quoted price was higher. Subsequently when more companies starting rolling out these kits, the prices dropped.
Andhra Pradesh is now keen to show to the world that others have bought similar kits for a price higher than Rs 730. Sources in the government point to the purchase order of the Karnataka government that ordered 50000 kits from a Haryana-based vendor Genes2Me Private Limited at Rs 795 per kit on 19 April.