The government paid more than €21m in the past 10 months for the services of private mobile units offering rapid tests free of charge to members of the public on behalf of the health ministry, according to data submitted to the House watchdog committee on Thursday.
The health ministry’s permanent secretary, Christina Yiannaki briefed the committee on the tenders and procedures for the purchase of rapid test kits and services.
According to the data she submitted to the MPs, between November 16 last year and end of September this year, the health ministry paid €21.39m to private labs to operate mobile units carrying out rapid testing on its behalf. This concerned 9.09 million tests.
The ministry has, through tenders, purchased between October 2020 and September 2021, in total 9.9 million rapid test kits for €20.1m.
Yiannaki also told the committee that, due to increasing competition, the price for a PCR test is now at €15 compared to €110 private labs were charging the ministry in April 2020.
As regards rapid tests, from €5 the ministry is now able to buy them €1.16 each.
The health ministry, she said, was called upon since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 “to respond to unprecedented difficulties, but also constantly changing conditions in order to stop the pandemic and maintain public health at safe levels.”
“Taking into account these conditions, it is our assessment that the health ministry showed a high degree of readiness, flexibility and responded immediately to the challenges that arose, despite the fact that the constantly changing and unpredictable course of the pandemic made scheduling work very difficult,” she added.
She pointed out that, through competitive procedures and negotiations the ministry has succeeded in reducing prices, both for molecular tests and for rapid tests, with total savings reaching around €4.3m and the provision of free quantities of rapid test kits worth €2m. With this, she added, the total savings reached €6.3m.
Yiannaki said the health ministry has been following all procedures with full transparency and ensured the maximum possible competition.
The committee praised the health ministry for the way it has handled the tenders and negotiations, keeping the costs down.
Head of the committee, Diko MP Zacharias Koulias, said this was “a bright example of public funds management.” He said that had it not been for responsible people like Yiannaki and her team who properly followed the procedures, this process could have led to massive squandering of money.