Vaccine contract with UNICEF suspended

Public health: Vaccine contract with UNICEF suspended

Published: February 4, 2014

‘Health Ministry did not invite bids because it wanted to buy vaccines from a dealer of its choice’.PHOTO: FILE

The Lahore High Court on Monday suspended the operation of the federal government’s contract with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for supply of Pentavalent vaccine.
The court issued the order on Tipu Salman Makhdoom’s petition. He claimed that the government had given the contract for supply of the vaccine to the UNICEF in breach of proper procedure.
His counsel Rai Shahid Saleem Khan told the court that the government was duty-bound to procure the vaccines under the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.
He said on December 17, 2013 the government advertised an invitation of bids for procurement of various vaccines. He said pentavalent vaccine (DPT-Hep B-Hib) was not included in the list of medicines.
The vaccine protects infants from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, and influenza.
He claimed that the Ministry of Health did not invite bids for the purchase vaccines because it wanted to buy from a dealer of its choice. He said the ministry secretly gave the contract to the UNICEF.
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He said the decision of the Ministry of Health to sign the contract with the UNICEF without inviting tenders was a violation of PPRA rules and several rulings of the Supreme Court.
He asked the court to declare the decision of the government illegal and unconstitutional. He said during the pendency of his petition, the government should be restrained from taking further action in this regard.
The court suspended the contract and adjourned the hearing till February 12.
Judgement reserved on Ittefaq Group auction
A Lahore High Court division bench on Monday reserved verdict on an intra-court appeal challenging an order allowing auction of four units of Ittefaq Group to return Rs3 billion loan to creditor banks taken by the family of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
A single bench had accepted the petition of National Bank of Pakistan and other banks seeking sale of Ittefaq Foundries, Brothers Steel at Kot Lakhpat, Ittefaq Brothers at Shahdara and Ilyas Enterprises at Bund Road Lahore.
These units were surrendered by Sharif’s family against bank liabilities for adjustment of loans.
The eight banks lent Rs3.11 billion to Ittefaq Group of Industries between 1982 and 1998. In most cases, the loan was not paid back as scheduled and the banks added the mark-up charges to the credit.
Ilyas Meraj and other shareholders had challenged the auction saying it was a violation of the Companies Ordinance.
The division bench comprising Justice Ayesha A Malik and Justice Shehzada Mazhar reserved judgment after arguments concluded.
Governor’s eligibility
The Lahore High Court on Monday adjourned hearing of a petition seeking disqualification of Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar till February 10.
The petitioner’s counsel said Sarwar’s appointment violated the law and the Constitution.
He said Sarwar had left Pakistan when it was in crisis. He said such a person could not be appointed as governor.
He requested the court to disqualify Sarwar. A law officer of federal government sought some time to file the government’s reply.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah accepted the plea and adjourned hearing till February 10.
Sapna Khan case
The Lahore High on Monday directed the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) to complete investigation of actress Sapna Khan’s alleged kidnap and murder case.
Her father, Missal Khan, told the court that the police had not recorded statements of former chief minister Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa and other suspects in the case. A police official, however, said investigation was underway and Khosa had been summoned thrice to answer queries of the investigation team.
The court directed the CIA police to complete the investigation in 10 days.
Khan said the Racecourse police had registered a case in 2012 against Khosa on charges of kidnapping and murder of his former wife (Sapna).
He said the police had not arrested Khosa although he had not secured bail.
He said the police could not recover Sapna Khan without arresting Khosa.
The court adjourned hearing till completion of investigation.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2014.