Financial Times (London) (03.03.2007) - Wednesday, March 7,
Alleging a lack of transparency in procurement procedures, the
World Bank and the UK's Department for International
Development (DFID) are refusing to finance the Indian
government's purchase of condoms.
India's National AIDS Control Program-III (NACP-III), which
starts next month, needs hundreds of millions of condoms.
Currently, the government buys these from local companies,
like the state-owned Hindustan Latex Ltd. But some HIV
advocates say the condoms are overpriced and the government's
procurement procedures are wasting scarce prevention funds.
"Over a billion condoms are being made under government
contract every year at 25-40 percent above the market price.
It all looks very ugly to me," said the head of one
nongovernmental AIDS organization.
A senior international civil servant running an HIV outreach
in India said, "Domestic preference is playing a role here
that it wouldn't in other countries, leading to a situation
where India is paying 30-40 percent more than the world
average. It's very frustrating, but the government says it's
K. Sujatha Rao, director-general of India's National AIDS
Control Organization, said she understands that donors want
international bidders involved but quality is key. "Korean
condoms are very cheap, but they are quite suspect and are
bound to be disastrous," she said. "I want good quality
Jeff Wilson, a UK High Commission spokesperson in India,
acknowledged that procurement is "an issue" and said DFID does
not plan to finance the purchasing of condoms under NACP-III.