By Staff Reporter
The Anti-Corruption Commission on 2 and 3 April this year arrested a Ministry of Finance employee and a billing officer at a private hospital for allegedly defrauding patients who were PSEMAS beneficiaries.
The medical aid administration officer at the ministry, Beatrice Boois and the billing officer Patience Mcavellem, were remanded in police custody after their first court appearance.
There have been a myriad of reports highlighting the levels of fraud that has been taking place in the health sector which has cost the government medical aid millions.
Many healthcare practitioners and practices were suspected or accused of over-claiming from the medical aid plan.
The Ministry of Finance advertised two tenders this September, one dealing with the administration component and another tender dealing with biometric technology. Thirteen companies participated with a few notable ones like Methealth, Profile Investment and Clinico.
Methealth Namibia Administrators has been government’s administrator for close to 17 years. Their contract was about to expire earlier this year however it has been extended to March 2020.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu has said that the bid was above the ministry’s threshold, indicating that the CPB would be left to decide. According to legislation dealing with procurement, any tender above N$ 35 million should be evaluated by the Central Procurement Board but the Ministry of Finance only recently referred the tenders to CPB.
Decsribed as a rather drawn-out process with the Individual Procurement Plan (IPP) from Psemas only submitted to Central Procurement Broad of Namibia (CPBN) for approval on the 8th May. Subsequently, Psemas was instructed to resubmit the IPP due to shortcomings in their submission. Psemas made the submission only more than 3 months later.
According to the Ministry of Finance website “the CPBN is a procuring agent, it is therefore of utmost importance for CPBN to collaborate with the Public Entity to execute the procurement.
The Public Entity prepares the Individual Procurement Plan according to their own strategic plans and budget, after which they prepare the bidding documents with the specifications and the evaluation criteria.
The role of the Board is to ensure that the specifications and the evaluation criteria encourages fair competition and compliance to the Act.”
According to a source close to the matter, the ministry (Psemas) deliberately delayed the process, attempting to avoid including CPB altogether in the tender awarding process.
When contacted for comment, Deputy Director of Psemas Administration, Elizabeth Kharuxas, directed this publication to the Executive Director in the ministry or the Public Relations Officer, Tonateni Shidhudhu.
Kharuxas did however, take time to state that, “Psemas does not do tender process. It is done by general services which also do the procurement management, they deal with tenders and things. It is either CPBN or there is a division within the Ministry of Finance; it is called PPU and they are the procurement management unit. At Psemas we don’t deal with any procurement or any tenders.”
Shidhuhu on his part posed the question, “how do you describe long? Well there is a process, a process you have to go through step by step.” He says that this process is in the hands of CPBN and they should be in a better position to inform how long the approval would take.
Shidhuhu elaborated by saying, “there have been consultations between PPU and CPBN on the project as they all have a role to play. There was no friction between the two parties.”
He makes it clear that “PPU and CPBN do their work independently without any influence by the ministry.”
The medical aid scheme falls under the budget of the finance ministry, and N$2.8 billion was allocated for Psemas for the 2019/20 fiscal year.
Kharuxas earlier this year said the PSEMAS fund has been running on a deficit since 2016, with average yearly shortfalls of N$400 million.
Its budget amounts to N$8,5 billion over the four years from 2015 to 2019, with an additional N$1,7 billion to cover yearly shortfalls.