Political row erupts over testing kits' inflated cost

Coronavirus: Political row erupts over inflated cost of testing kits

Representative image/Pixabay Image

A political row erupted over the pricing of rapid antibody test kits. A legal battle in a court between an importer and a distributor revealed massive profiteering to the tune of 145% over the landed cost of the kits bought from Chinese companies.

As the Congress and the DMK targeted the Modi government and the Tamil Nadu government over buying the kits at inflated prices, the Centre claimed that it opted to make the purchases from the Chinese company’s exclusive distributor as it offered better terms.

For latest updates and live news on coronavirus, click here

An official statement said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had approached the Chinese company Wondfo directly, but it had insisted on 100% advance payment without any commitment on logistics or timelines.

“...it was decided to with Wondfo’s exclusive distributor for India for the kit who quoted an all-inclusive price for FOB (logistics) without any clause for advance,” a Health Ministry statement said.

“No payment has been made to the seller of the kits,” Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry told reporters here. He added the kits were being returned after field validation tests showed a wide variation in the results.

CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL COVERAGE ONLY ON DH

A controversy erupted as the court battles between the importer – Chennai-based Matrix Labs and distributor Real Metabolics over the payment for the test kits that revealed a massive difference between the procurement price of the kits and its selling price to the government.

The importer procured the kit at Rs 245 per piece and sold it to the government at Rs 600 per piece.

“When the entire country is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are still trying to earn profits using unscrupulous ways. Such a corrupt mindset makes me cringe. The country will never pardon them,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said.

“That any human being would try & profiteer from the immeasurable suffering of millions of his brothers & sisters, is beyond belief & comprehension. This scam is an insult to every Indian. I urge the PM to act swiftly to bring the corrupt to justice,” Rahul said.

His remarks came after a trial in Delhi High Court revealed massive profiteering and over-pricing by a firm in the Covid-19 kits supplied to the ICMR.

Congress leaders went on the offensive accusing the Modi government of purchasing testing kits for Rs 600 per piece against the landed price of Rs 245.