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Montevideo, March 27th 2023 - 22:59 UTC



Financial mismanagement reported at Argentina's Health Ministry

Wednesday, December 28th 2022 - 01:49 UTC
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Ginés González García was Health Minister at the time of the irregularities Ginés González García was Health Minister at the time of the irregularities

Serious irregularities have been detected by Argentina's National General Comptroller (AGN) in the handling of Health Ministry funds during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was reported in Buenos Aires.

According to La Nación, control procedures were relaxed in light of the emergency decree mandating the lockdowns among other measures. Hence, undue payments were made and have been now detected.

Comptroller Miguel Ángel Pichetto warned that “even 200,000 disposable shirts were purchased for AR$ 44 million that were not authorized for medical use by the [National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology] Anmat.”

“In no way can the State take refuge in emergency issues to justify irregular procedures. The findings of this report are serious and it is unacceptable that the Ministry of Health does not seem to notice it,” Pichetto added.

“It is clear that in this case the necessary precautions were not taken to guarantee the integrity in the contracting and the observance of the Public Ethics Law,” AGN Chairman Jesús Rodríguez warned regarding a contract involving Aeromedical S.A., which was owned by a Health Ministry outsource worker.

During the first year of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health made purchases and contracts for AR$ 4581 million (which, if adjusted as per the country's inflation would be tantamount to AR$ 11.5 billion - nearly US$ 33 million at the unofficial exchange rate).

The AGN also found that it was not until July 20, 2020 (exactly four months after the presidential emergency decree) that the Ministry appointed a head of the Procurement and Contracting Department. In the meantime, contracts worth AR$ 618 million were signed.

In addition to that, there were differences between payments made and what was billed by suppliers. Regarding the AGN findings, a dossier has been sent to current Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, who was Health Undersecretary at the time under Minister Ginés González García. But the explanations were far from satisfactory, Rodríguez explained.

“The Ministry of Health openly claims that the extraordinary emergency situation allowed it to deviate from procedural forms. And that is a disgrace. Even in the exception, the authority must adhere to an extraordinary procedure. The contempt for the regulations in force on the part of the Ministry is abysmal,” the former Vice Presidential candidate Pichetto stressed.

The ruling Frente de Todos (FdT) party's majority in the AGN resulted in the seal of secrecy imposed on the AGN's report on the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.

Categories: Health & Science, Argentina.

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