Kabul – June 12, 2021
Reporter: Bilal Khudadad
The difference between an egg’s cost in meal contracts for staff and patients at Covid-19 treatment centers of Kabul is 100 afghanis.
Findings of the Payk Investigative Journalism Center show that the price set for three meals for doctors and patients of Covid-19 treatment centers have been set at 300 afghanis for doctors and 200 afghanis for patients. However, the 100 afghanis difference in the menus of the doctors and patients is just one egg which doesn’t cost more than 10 afghanis in the markets across the country.
The contract, at a total cost of 29 million afghanis, was signed between the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the Intercontinental Hotel on 05/29/2020, for one fiscal year.
While the list of projects related to the Covid-19 disease, in the database of the National Procurement Authority (NPA) shows the status of this contract as “under progress,” but officials of the Afghan-Japan Hospital say that the contract was terminated last September due to poor quality of food and late delivery to the hospital.
Dr. Khadim Ali Atefi, Afghan-Japan Hospital’s Projects Coordinator, in an interview with Payk reporter says that he doesn’t know anything about a 100 afghanis difference in the cost of one egg in the contract meal menu and adds:
“I can only confirm that the food provided by the Intercontinental Hotel was not in accordance with the contract, and now we make the food needed for hospital staff and patients in-house.”
The officials responsible for the provision of information in the MoPH, in response to Payk reporter’s question wrote that this contract with the Afghan-Japan Hospital have been terminated and was signed with the Care of Afghan Families (CAF) organization. However, they give no information on why the contract was terminated with the Intercontinental Hotel and why the project is still listed as “under progress” in NPA’s database.
The officials of the Intercontinental Hotel also did not respond to Payk reporter’s questions on the matter despite repeated attempts.
According to MoPH officials, this contract was only terminated in the Afghan-Japan Hospital case, while the contracts with other Covid-19 treatment centers remained valid. But they do not say that if the quality of food was low and delivery was late, why the contract has not been terminated in other treatment centers as well, and whether the terms of the contract have been complied with or not?
As the General Provisions of the MoPH’s contract with the Intercontinental Hotel, in first paragraph of Article 27, states: “the minimum amount of fine for late delivery is 0.1% of the total price of the contract and the maximum amount is 10% of the total cost of the contract.”
Ramin Ayaz, the spokesperson for the NPA, says that monitoring the compliance with the terms of contracts is responsibility of the contractor institutions. He further says that MoPH officials should be held accountable on why the project is still listed as “under progress” in the NPA’s database.
However, the MoPH did not respond to any of Payk reporter’s key questions.
Yarbaz Khan Hamidi, a member of the Health Commission of the Lower House of Parliament, believes that no contract is free of corruption, as this commission’s previous investigations have shown unbelievably high prices in food catering contracts, for patients and staff of the Covid-19 treatment centers in several provinces of the country. Whether these contracts are still valid or have been terminated, remains unknown.