Andhra denies corruption in rapid test kits deal

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Amaravati April 20 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday dismissed the opposition allegations of a scam in the purchase of one lakh rapid test kits, claiming that the deal was transparent and fair.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said though the test kits were badly needed, the Centre could not provide them and asked the states to purchase them on their own from any country for coronavirus testing.
The state Health Department placed an order with a company approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which fixed Rs 795 price for each kit. However, the state quoted Rs 65 less than the fixed price, he said.
“It was clearly mentioned in the terms (of the sale) that if the company sells kits at a lower price, we too will pay the same price,” the CM said in a statement.
Reddy said so far only 25 per cent of the payment had been made without any scope for corruption.
The kits were being manufactured only in foreign countries when the order was placed by the government. But now the same company is manufacturing the kits in India for which the ICMR has given permission.
Earlier, Minister for Health Alla Nani told reporters that the state entered into an agreement with a South Korean company for one lakh kits at Rs 730 per unit whereas the ICMR fixed the purchase price at Rs 795 per unit.
He said Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state chief Kanna Lakshmi Narayana has been leveling “false allegations” on the issue.
Both the opposition parties alleged that there was corruption in the deal as the same were purchased by other states at lower prices.
TDP leader K. Atchan Naidu claimed that Chhattisgarh purchased the kit for Rs 337 each while Andhra Pradesh purchased it for Rs 817 from the same company.
According to him, the basic price of the test kit was Rs 730 and with 12 per cent GST the price worked out to Rs 817. He alleged that Jagan Mohan Reddy and others received kickbacks of Rs 8 crore in this deal.
BJP’s state unit chief Kanna Lakshmi Narayana also alleged corruption in the deal. He posted a tweet of a Cabinet Minister of Chhattisgarh. “We are procuring 75,000 high quality rapid testing kits at a benchmark price of Rs 337 + GST from a South Korean company based in India, which has proven to be the lowest bidder. The rate we have been able to close at is the lowest in India,” tweeted T.S. Singh Deo.