Saturday, 13 July, 2024

NA inks Rs 2.25bn agreement with China to purchase medical goods


By Purushottam P. Khatri
Kathmandu, Apr. 22: Nepali Army Headquarters (NAHQ) has inked an agreement with China Sino-Farm International Corporation, China’s state-owned company, for the procurement of medical equipment and kits to be used in the diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus infected people in Nepal.
With the formal agreement reached between the NA and the Corporation officials on April 19, within a week the NA is importing its first lot of very essential and prioritised medical equipment from chartered flights of Nepal Airlines and Shree Airlines.
NA said that the total weight of the purchased medical goods is 342 tonnes, and the goods will be brought in a phase-wise and priority basis, as all the purchased goods cannot be brought collectively, Brigadier General and Army Headquarters spokesperson Bigyan Dev Pandey told journalists at a video teleconference system from the Army Headquarters.
The total cost of purchased goods is Rs 2.25 billion (184 million USD) which include 67 items. There will be over 200,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the Headquarters.
The payment for the goods was made to the Company from Nepal Rastra Bank under the consent of the Ministry of Finance and as per the terms of condition the payment for the goods should have been delivered to the Company within two days of the agreement, according to the Army.
Authority from China Sino-Farm International Corporation and Adjutant General and Master General of Ordinance (MGO) Prabhuram Sharma of Nepali Army signed the agreement from two sides.
China Sino-Farm International Corporation is the state-owned company that is undertaken by the Ministry of Commerce of China, according to Brigadier General Pandey.
The agreement to procure medical goods from China was made under the government-to-government model as per the Cabinet decision made on March 29.
The national requirement of the medical goods of 67 items was finalised by the Logistic Operation under the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC-Operation), said Pandey, who is also the Director at the Directorate of Public Relations and Information (DPR&I) at the Army Headquarters.
The goods were purchased under certification of National Medical Product Administration (NMPA) of China for ensuring the quality of the goods, according to Pandey. NMPA is a quality assurance certification ensured by the government of China before its export abroad.
Without having this NMPA certified trade mark no medical goods can be exported to any country and no custom clearance granted from China, according to the NA.
The purchased goods will all be brought to Guangzhou of China and will be brought in Nepal both from the chartered flights and roadways via Tatopani border point as per the urgency and requirements, said Pandey.
Besides Nepal, the China Sino-Farm International Corporation has been exporting the same types of medical goods to 80 other countries. "We (Nepal) are in 81st place or number of this company for buying the medical goods," he said.
In the context of purchasing 56 types of medicines from India under the same G2G processes, the NA said, the procedure has been moving ahead and letter of acceptance has been sent to India, but no further progress has been made yet, said Pandey.
In one chartered flight, the wide-body of Nepal Airlines can carry only 18-20 tons of goods, so there is a need to conduct at least 18 to 19 chartered flights to bring all 342 tons of goods," he said.
To reduce the cost of the chartered flights, the NA has also been planning to bring the medical items via Tatopani dry port, added Pandey.
The cost of the medical goods was finalised on April 15 upon the consent of the Ministry of Health and Population and the decision to this effect came to the Army Headquarters from the Ministry of Defence.