What can you buy with one rupee these days? A candy? Perhaps. But believe it or not, two ministries of our country have been buying keyboard, mouse, CFL bulb, Wi-Fi router and many other items at a rate of just one rupee per piece.
According to a price list obtained by Republica, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) have been buying scores of items at the rate of just 1 rupee, irrespective of their market price.
During the fiscal year 2070/71 BS, these two ministries have bought items ranging from computer accessories to umbrellas at Re 1 per piece.
The MoHA has bought 8 pieces of Wi-Fi router, 10 pieces each of USB keyboard and USB mouse, and several printer cartridges at just Re 1 from B&B Traders. The supplier has contracted with the ministry for providing 39 items at the rate of Re 1 per piece, bearing a huge loss just to get itself listed as a supplier for the ministry.
Similarly, the ministry has bought 50 pieces of standard umbrellas, 20 pieces of standard raincoat, 55 pieces of thermos, and electric cables including as many as 63 items at the rate of Re 1 this year.
The MoHP has also bought 15 CFL bulbs, 20 tube lights, three electric kettles, 15 cup sets, mug, mouse, broom and several other stationery items at just Re 1 from Marketing Line Ines, Koteshwar.
The matter came to light after the information was released by the ministries to Dan Bahadur Karki of Sindhupalchowk and Nodanath Trital of Dhankuta, who used the Right to Information Act to get the details of items purchased by these ministries during the fiscal year.
“Providing goods at the rate of Re 1 is nothing but a loss for us. However, we offer the lowest price just to win the ministry’s tender as there is a tough competition in the market and we don’t want to lose our regular customers,” said Ishwar Joshi, a staffer at B&B Traders, Ghattekulo, Kathmandu.
However, officials at the ministries and the suppliers claim that providing goods at a price of Re 1 is just a trick to get access to government offices. “Suppliers offer some goods at a price of Re 1 and later manage to sell other goods at higher prices,” said a supplier who did not succeed in being listed in the bid requesting anonymity.
Spokesperson at the MoHA, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, said that the ministry has been buying the goods in line with the Economic Act and Public Procurement Act. “Even we were surprised to see goods being provided at just Re 1,” Dhakal told Republica. “They may get more income by supplying other goods after being selected in the tender process.”
Joshi, the B&B Traders staffer, also admitted that suppliers make huge income by supplying non-tendered goods. “You can charge several times more in case of some goods, that’s how suppliers recover their losses in other goods,” said Joshi.
According to Nabin Chalaugain, chairman of suppliers association, suppliers should not be solely blamed for the anomaly. “Such oddity is not possible without the participation of government officials,” he said.
Items bought at Re 1
• Wi-Fi router
• USB keyboard
• USB mouse
• CFL bulb
• Tube light
• Electric kettles
• Cup sets