DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A senior retired official of the Health Department has alleged that Rs33.02 million was embezzled in the purchase of equipment for the District Headquarters Hospital in Dera Ismail Khan.
The sources said that the official in question, Dr Karim Shah was sacked as Hospital Director by the hospital’s board of directors after he pointed out irregularities in the purchase of equipment for the hospital.
The public complaints prompted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other investigation agencies to probe the matter, the sources added.
In his report, a senior auditor in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Anti-Corruption Establishment endorsed vide a letter (No.8053-58 dated 25.4.19 ) that in the year 2011-12 the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ), Dera Ismail Khan floated a tender for the purchase of various items for the hospital.
The report said that a 4-slice CT scan machine was purchased for Rs25.820 million.
It is important to note that contrary to the approval for standard quality CT scan machine by the Executive Engineer, Central Workshop KP Health Department, who was chairman of the purchase committee, a below standard CT scan machine was supplied to the DHQ Hospital Dera Ismail Khan.
The sources said the then Medical Superintendent Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch reportedly cancelled the supply order of the CT scan machine and surrendered the relevant funds with a commitment to re-tender it. But re-tendering was not done and the machine was bought and installed at the hospital without any delivery challan.
The visiting audit team of the Anti-Corruption Establishment objected to its non-functioning because of certain deficiencies.
The investigating agencies held the then Medical Superintendent Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch and the contractor responsible for it.
Interestingly, the report mentioned that neither the costly C.T scan machine was mentioned in the tender notice nor any codal formalities were adopted by the management for its purchase.
The sources alleged that the former medical superintendent overlooked the illegal practices which were probed and audited by the Anti-Corruption Establishment, the NAB and the departmental audit teams since 2012.
These inquiries provided enough evidence and it was recommended that stern action be taken against Medical Superintendent Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch and storekeeper Muhammad Javed, who allegedly stole life-saving drugs from the store.
On September 19, 2013, during his visit to District Headquarters Hospital Dera Ismail Khan, chief minister Pervez Khattak while referring to multiple complaints by the public circles expressed annoyance over the poor management and the corrupt practices in the hospital. He directed the Medical Superintendent Dr Kareem Shah to furnish a fact-finding report on the affairs.
Earlier, the Provincial Inspection Committee also probed the matter but it could not uncover anything.
The inquiry report was submitted to the chief minister on November 22, 2014 in which inquiry officer concluded that Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch was allegedly involved in the embezzlement of about Rs7.2 million and lack of record about millions of rupees donated by the donors.
The inquiry established that storekeeper Muhammad Javed was allegedly involved in the steeling of 3,850 injections and other costly medicines from the hospital’s main store.
Along with Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch, the Accountant Saadat Nawaz, Office Assistant Mushtaq Bhatti and Muhammad Javed were held responsible for the irregularities.
When contacted, Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch refuted the charges levelled against him.
He said the probe wasn’t conducted on the orders of the then chief minister. Instead, he claimed, a former official of the hospital was behind the entire issue because of professional rivalry.
To a question, Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch said though the order for purchasing the CT scan machine was placed by him, the contract was cancelled and the budget surrendered by the management on the directives of the provincial Secretary Health.
He maintained that no inquiry was pending about his tenure. He added that the budget and audit meetings relating to his tenure were clear.
Concerning the writ petition in the Peshawar High Court, Dr Khalid Aziz Baloch said a clarification by the Department of the Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pointed to his innocence. “No inquiry and action is pending against me,” he added.
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