Eyebrows were raised in the local business community` over a tender called for the supply of 123,000 insecticide chemical treated mosquito nets, by a body under the Health Ministry, giving local suppliers only ten days time to submit their tenders for these highly specialized goods, which should meet the standards set by the WHO.
Sources in the import trade said the tender notice published by the Country Coordinating Mechanism under the Ministry, which called for the tender on 27.3.2005 for such a large stock of goods were going to use about 1 million US Dollars foreign aid but the 25,000 cone shaped nets and another 25,000 rectangular shaped nets are to be supplied to the GFTAM by the end of April.
The tender notice also stipulates that another 50,000 nets should be supplied by May 15 and the last consignment supplied by May 25th.
When The Island contacted the Ministry of Health to find out why there was such an inordinate hurry to get these nets supplied within a matter of days, we were told the Senior Assistant Secretary in charge of the subject has gone on transfer and the officer now in charge, a Mrs.Vitanachchi, who was unable to give further details, said `We have not got the WHO approval yet`. She said she could not give further details. Director General Dr.Athula Kahandaliyanage, also could not be contacted as he too way away.
There seems to be some queer reason as to why the authorities had given such a short time space for the supply of this special variety of goods in such a large quantity, when these aid funds, which were first given to local NGO, which called for tenders in 2003.
Strangely, in that instance no one had supplied the large quantity of goods which were under an international project `Global Fund to Fight AIDS/TB`, till three years had passed.
The one million US Dollar Aid which was given to the NGO by the WHO for the purpose had been unused by the NGO for over two years ( probably earning interest in US Dollars in a bank account) and suddenly the project has now surfaced at the Health Ministry for another unknown reason the sources aid.
Sumitomo Corporation of Japan had come forward to supply these nets but was rejected by the WHO and how any local company was going to get their principals abroad to supply this large quantity of chemically treated nets in such a short time along with WHO approval was the mystery. But it could very well be that someone has already imported these nets and is keeping them in stock so that only one party could be the successful supplier, sources said.