The COVID-19 pandemic devastation seemed to have not deterred fraudulent business practices, with a company from Singapore trying to dispatch millions of substandard Chinese KN95 masks to India in 2021 by forging a third-party Inspection Certificate.
This was discovered by the dispatch inspection team of Hindustan Life Care Limited (HLL) and the bank guarantee of the supplier worth $9.75 million was encashed. The money is now lying in a separate account at the Indian Mission, in Singapore. India wasn’t the only target of fraud. The report also pointed out that 200 million substandard, soiled and second-hand medical nitrile gloves were purchased by the U.S.A from a Thailand-based company during the pandemic.
The report states that India managed to get many things right in its management of the pandemic including putting in place a central procurement agency (HLL Lifecare Limited, finalized in February 2020). An expert panel was also put in place to develop specifications for overalls, goggles, and N95 masks which supported the Health Ministry’s long-term market development and production of Emergency Medical Equipment (EME) in India.
India also managed efficient distribution of medical supplies nationwide, put in early restrictions, and also created empowered inter-ministerial groups to achieve prompt procurement decisions during emergencies,’’ the report said. The country managed to scale up from 18 to over 2,500 testing laboratories rapidly within a span of four months and become ready to face future pandemics and health emergencies that pose serious challenges for global supply chains.
A senior Health Ministry official added that the Ministry is now pushing to ensure that there is greater precaution dose COVID vaccine coverage.