Health Ministry hit by new procurement query -This time its over purchase of luxury Land Cruiser for the minister FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE Dar es Salaam THIS DAY THE Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has discovered widespread violations of procurement regulations in various government ministries and departments, including the purchase of a luxury Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle for the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof. David Mwakyusa, last year without following proper procedures. According to the latest report of the public procurement watchdog, some decisions of the health ministrys ministerial tender board (MTB) appear to have at times been unduly influenced by other government organs as well as suppliers. In one specific case, the PPRA report notes that a top State House official was involved in influencing the ministrys procurement process towards approving the purchase of the luxury Land Cruiser VX station wagon vehicle for the health ministers official use. The report describes the approval by State House chief secretary Philemon Luhanjo, via a letter with reference number SAB 350/457/01/116 and dated March 14 last year, as being contrary to laid-down procedures and undermining the independence of the procuring entity. Such interferences put to test the independence of the MTB (ministerial tender board) in exercising its best judgement when fulfilling its mandate, says the PPRA report. According to official government records, the MTB approved the purchase of the vehicle at a cost of 108,801,397/- from Toyota Tanzania Limited, after being informed that State House had issued an authorisation for the purchase of the motor vehicle. But the PPRA report states that the MTBs approval of the request for purchase of the vehicle after authorisation from State House did not follow regulations. The report also points out serious flaws in another health ministry procurement tender involving the purchase of utility vehicles, whereby some newly-bought vehicles broke down after covering only a few kilometres. The poor performance of the Isuzu motor vehicles was noted by users after they had been purchased through tender number 65 of 2003/04. Five of the purchased vehicles were grounded after running for less than 4,000 kilometres, the report says. In another case involving an order for ten vehicles supplied by Diamond Motors Limited of Dar es Salaam, one vehicle had to be dropped from the list after the unit price went up following use of the yen/shilling exchange rate pegged on private financial institutions other than the Bank of Tanzania. In one of its regular meetings, the (health ministry) MTB was informed that during 2003/04 the ministry entered into a contract with Diamond Motors Limited for the supply of ten Mitsubishi pick-up vehicles at a corrected contract price of Japanese yen 23,160,000, says the report. It adds: There was then a misunderstanding between the two parties on the applicable exchange rates, with the client insisting on using the exchange rate as determined by Bank of Tanzania while the supplier preferring the exchange rate provided by Standard Chartered Bank, which resulted into an extra 3,597,745/- required to finalise payment for the vehicles. The PPRA report says the ministerial tender board eventually succumbed to the demands of Diamond Motors Limited, leading to the supply of one of the ten vehicles being delayed for two years. The current health ministry MTB has eight members appointed by the ministrys permanent secretary and serving a three-year term of office starting from November 22 last year. It is chaired by Dr Zachariah Berege with Peter Msigula serving as secretary to the board. Other board members are Dr Gilbert Mliga, Charles Masolwa, L. Kikuli, G. Kameka, Regina Kikuli and Dr R.B. Kalinga.