‘Tk 19cr’ of COVID sample test fee embezzled
Published: 09:19 PM, 7 October 2021
250-bed Khulna General Hospital; File Photo
The divisional Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has formed a three-member committee to probe into the embezzlement of Tk 2,57,57,000 of the Covid-19 sample test fee at Khulna General Hospital without depositing the money in the government treasury.
Medical Technologist Prakash Kumar Das, who is also the pathologist in-charge of the hospital has been on the run since the incident. No trace of him has been found in the last 16 days.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the amount for the Covid-19 sample test fee is Tk 2.5 crore on paper, but in reality, the amount has been rumored to be “Tk 19 crore”. As a result, some hospital officials are afraid that a fair and impartial investigation could lead to revealing “irregularities and mismanagement”.
Dr. Jashim Uddin Hawlader, director (health) of Khulna Divisional DGHS, said that a three-member probe committee headed by deputy director (health) Dr. Md. Manjurul Murshid was formed over the incident of embezzling Tk 2.5 crore of Covid-19 sample test fee against Prakash Kumar Das, a lab technologist of the 205-bed general hospital.
“The committee was formed on September 30. The other members are - assistant director (administration) Dr. Syed Rezaul Karim and assistant director (medical sub depot) Dr. Md. Rafiqul Islam Gazi. The committee has been instructed to submit the probe report within the next 15 working days,” said Dr. Md. Manjurul Murshid.
According to reliable sources in the hospital, Tk 1000 was taken for the Covid-19 sample test collected at home and Tk 500 was taken for testing at the hospital. Later, it was converted to Tk 500 and Tk 300, Besides, Tk 3500 from outbound people. The hospital’s lab in-charge and medical technologist Prakash Kumar Das was in charge of all this.
The paper-based investigation revealed that from July 2020 to July this year, Tk 4,24,93,000 was collected from the Covid-19 sample test, but only Tk 1,66,96,000 was deposited in the government treasury. Prakash Kumar Das did not deposit the remaining Tk 2,57,97,000.
The source further said that the receipt for taking the test fee was not given to most of the patients at first. Even if the hospital took Tk 1000 for the sample collection of the COVID test at home, the receipt would not be given. As a result, there is no evidence on how much money was raised as fees for those tests. Due to which the embezzlement of Tk 2.5 crore on paper was exposed, but in reality, the amount is claimed to be Tk 19 crore.
It was learned that the current civil surgeon Dr. Niaz Mohammad started supervising on his own initiative after being able to anticipate the mismatch of the COVID test fee. Since then, widespread corruption and irregularities are slowly revealing. Following this, a five-member probe body headed by a civil surgeon was formed on August 22 this year. The committee submitted its report on September 18.
The investigation revealed that the lab technologist and lab in-charge Prakash Kumar Das did not deposit the remaining Tk 2,57,97,000. Prakash Kumar Das was summoned on September 20 for an answer, however, he went into hiding two days later. His mobile phone was also found switched off from that day. No trace of him was found in 16 days.
Md Nazmul Hasan, deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Khulna, said no direction has been given for the case yet. Instructions are likely to come in 2-1 days. The GD and written complaint filed by the Civil Surgeon of Khulna has been sent to Dhaka.