People concerned alleged the National Institute of ENT director professor Md Abu Hanif and its chief assistant Md Shariful Islam are involved in these irregularities. Shariful Islam was known as a close aide to the director so he was promoted to the post of chief assistant without the approval of the departmental promotion committee (DPC), violating the recruitment rules.
Shariful Islam, however, claimed he was promoted in accordance with the administrative rules. He denied involvement in the irregularities at the hospital saying, “I know nothing about it. You talk to the director.”
Director of the National Institute of ENT, which is located in the capital’s Tejgaon area, Abu Hanif admitted objections were found in the annual audit.
He talked Prothom Alo over mobile phone on 9 February. “These objections are still premature. As per rules, the office of the comptroller and auditor general will not finalise these objections now. Later it will be proved whether these are true or false,” he said adding the objections can be made public only after these are finally settled.
Auditors of the Health Audit Directorate said the National Institute of ENT was asked for explanation over these objections but they could not do so at the fixed time.
Records show several automated surgery and disease diagnosis machines were procured in various departments at the National Institute of ENT in the last two years. These include a clinical chemistry analyser, endoscopic camera, fibre optic light cable, full HD medical monitor, haematology analyser and post-urography system.
Contractor firms Victor Trading Corporation, Tabassum International and Pure Lab Tech supplied the machinery without the approval of the health ministry. On top of that, bill of entry and shipment documents were not also found for the machinery supplied by Victor Trading Corporation and Tabassum International. The hospital authorities made the payment in nexus with the contractor firm without the necessary documents.
Audit of the Health Audit Directorate found Victor Trading Corporation was provided with the work to supply food for the 2019-20 fiscal without calling a tender. Ten per cent of the work order was not taken as the performance security of the goods from the contractor firm as per the rules of the tender. Even, three-member survey committee could not take over the goods supplied by the firm.
The hospital authorities received the equipment from the contractor directly and paid the firm about Tk 5 million (50 lakh) in 2019-20 fiscal. Likewise, money bills worth over Tk 4.2 million (42 lakh) were also withdrawn in 2020-21 without tender, approval of survey committee and surety money.
Pathology machinery was procured from the Victor Trading in 2021-21. Audit found machinery were priced at Tk 6.9 million (69 lakh) more than the market price.
As per the tender, four people were to be sent abroad for training before procuring certain heavy machinery for surgery and disease diagnosis with an allocation of Tk 5 million (50 lakh). Audit found the contractor firm was paid in full without sending anyone for foreign training.
Prothom Alo could not reach the owner of Victor Trading Corporation, Kawsar Bhuyain after calling his three mobile phones several times. This correspondent texted Kawsar Bhuyain later, but he did not reply.
Audit shows Tk 1.25 million (12.53 lakh) was withdrawn for purchasing small machinery, medicine, chemical reagent and linen equipment through 60 bills without tender or quotation. Though the government rules on procurement do not allow spending more than Tk 1 million (10 lakh) in such way.
Discrepancies were also found in recruitment through outsourcing. Sources said 111 people were outsourced at the hospital in the last two fiscal years. Of them, 60 people were appointed in January-March this year. Audit found 21 of them received salary while Tk 3,841,442 was withdrawn for the salary purpose of the remaining 39 employees.
As per rules, outsourced employees receive their salary through bank accounts but the hospital authorities paid their salary through a contractor firm Gulf Securities Services Limited. Each of 111 employees is to receive Tk 18,964 a month fixed by the government. The contractor firm, however, paid many employees Tk 2,000 less than the fixed salary in nexus with the hospital authorities.
Sources said the service charge to outsource an employee is 5 per cent set by the government but the bill payment was shown at 15 per cent. The hospital authorities could not show any documents on the matter in the audit. It caused the government a loss of Tk 151,500, according to the audit report.
Audit also found bills were submitted showing Tk 500,000 less than the money that came from patients admitted to the hospital’s AC, non-AC and paying beds at the National Institute of ENT.
According to the sources at the Health Audit Directorate, its quality control committee dismissed an objection after examining 27 objections. Nineteen out of 26 objections has been identified as severe financial irregularity (SFI).
The Health Audit Directorate sent a letter to the director of institute on 16 January instructing the latter to respond in four weeks. Another letter was also sent on 31 January, extending the timeline for two more weeks. The institutive, however, did not reply.
Deputy director of Health Audit Directorate and head of the audit team Mir Md Nasir Uddin said, “We sought responses to these objections but they did not reply. As per rules, the AG office will settle these objections now.”
This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna