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The Accounts Chamber estimates healthcare spending on protective equipment at $246 million in the first year of the pandemic.

Date: July 6, 2022 3:11 am

Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport workers collect a batch of two million FFP2 masks purchased by the regional government in May 2020.Community of Madrid (Europe Press)

The Court of Accounts approved this Thursday in plenary session an audit report on expenditures incurred by health care during 2020, with particular attention to the costs associated with the outbreak and spread of the pandemic, finding no violations in contracts for the supply of medical services, but yes “incidents” in 22.44% of cases, such as delays or non-delivery of material. In this regard, the report itself emphasizes that the contract work, which amounted to 246 million euros, was carried out in the context of a public health emergency.

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The key paragraph of the report states that “in 22.44% of NIH contracts audited in March, April and May 2020, which coincided with the onset of the covid-19 health crisis amid global shortages of some medical supplies, appointments had various incidents in the execution.” However, the text limits such circumstances to the fact that “in four cases reviewed (8.16%), an early decision was made on a breach of contract due to the fault of the contractor, giving rise to relevant claims, which are under consideration at the date of approval of this report, for the recovery of advance funds, accrued interest and, if necessary, incurred losses”.

It further adds that “in two cases (4.08%), amendments not provided for by the treaties were agreed upon; and in five (10.20%) cases audited there were delays in the delivery of materials.” The report concludes by emphasizing that “these performance incidents may be indicative of insufficient testing by this organization of the manufacturing and supply chain capacities of some of the winning companies at the start of the pandemic, although these are exceptional acquisitions. emergency and in the context of these global deficits.”

In line with these assessments, the Court of Accounts also emphasizes that emergency contract processing constitutes a legal exception to the formality of contracting in the public sector. In accordance with this exception, the free conclusion of contracts is allowed without the need for the preliminary formation of an administrative file and even an oral conclusion of the relevant services.

“For this reason,” the audit report continues, “it should be positively assessed that, despite this exception, in the audited files of the National Institute of Social Security, the Institute for the Aging and Human Services, and in 67.35% of the files audited by the National Institute of Health Management contracts have been formalized as it is good contract management practice, provided that this does not delay immediate action by the contracting authority.”

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The report repeatedly highlights the emergency in which the hiring took place and goes no further than suggesting that some vendors were able to take advantage of it. Therefore, it states that “From the analysis of prices in general, an upward trend in the unit price for the purchase of FFP3 masks in March and April” of the aforementioned 2020 is evident. In relation to this point, it indicates that the highest price of FFP2 masks occurred in the acquisition made on April 3, 2020, the unit price of which was 4.17 euros.

It should also be noted in terms of its volume (56,200,000 FFP2 masks) the purchase from a single supplier, the amount of which is 95.14% of the total cost for this type of supply. On the other hand, the purchase price analysis highlights the significant difference between the purchase price of FFP2 masks in March, which ranged from €0.2781 per unit in the Covid5 file (March 20, 2020) to €2.67. per unit in the Covid 28 file (as of March 28, 2020). Thus, the prices of these masks have multiplied by ten in one week, a fact expected by EL PAÍS on the 13th, in a preview of the report approved this Wednesday by the Court of Accounts.



Source: elpais.com

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