The UN report warns of corruption risks in the procurement of a vaccine
Kaieteur News – As the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) continues to rise worldwide and countries scramble for vaccines to ensure herd immunity, a report prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned of several corruption risks associated with vaccine procurement.
The report first noted that, even under normal circumstances, the public procurement process poses the greatest risk of corruption across all government functions. “Procurement corruption scandals are widespread, but in the healthcare sector, the acquisition of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is particularly prone to corruption,” the report noted, as he outlined several instances where corruption may occur in the pre-proposal, bidding and post-offer periods.
According to the organization, in a public health crisis, the risks of corruption in procurement are compounded by the urgency of a country’s needs, the required flexibility and the speed demanded for the delivery of the said product, which creates the opportunity to individual discretion which may further increase the risk of pollution.
He noted that at the pre-bid stage, corruption risks including estimates for demand for a particular product were incorrectly made, public tendering procedures were clearly avoided and officials tailored tender documents to favor a particular bidder. The report further highlighted that, at the bidding stage, there is a high risk of government officials receiving bribes or compensation from suppliers and the risk of collusion and market sharing between the bidders themselves. “Such closed networks thrive by virtue of their ban and even more so when supervision is traded for speed and quick impact,” UNODC asserted.
In addition, it was revealed that, in the post-offer period, there was a risk of false invoicing for products, corrupt changes to contract agreements and vaccines paid for non-delivery.
It revealed that many countries had begun issuing direct contracts for procurement without a competitive bidding process and now faced challenges in ensuring orders were in place to identify and prevent abuses and corrupt practices in the public procurement process. In light of that, the report also warned of unscrupulous government officials who may be seeking to enrich themselves and their associates by seeking a kick-back from the suppliers.
The UNODC asked that suppliers also need to pay close attention, as they may seek to exploit government shortages and inflated prices to government buyers and collude with other suppliers to their advantage. “If suppliers bribe government officials to bypass regulatory controls, there is also a risk that governments may buy substandard or counterfeit products, undermining the health of their populations and reducing the trust and confidence of their citizens in public institutions – as well as responding to the government. to the pandemic, ”he said.
The United Nations organization has emphasized that public procurement has been estimated to cover as much as 15 to 30 percent of gross domestic product in many countries and has firmly concluded that the large volumes involved in procurement public exposure to pollution risks.