Bolivia’s defacto authorities have been caught in another corruption scheme related to COVID-19.
Bolivia’s Regime Caught in New COVID-19 Corruption Scandal
324 ventilators were purchased from a Chinese company for US$35,000 each, but the cost should have been less than US$13,000 per machine.
The Ombudsman's Office has formally requested an investigation by the General Comptroller's Office and the General Prosecutor's Office on the acquisition of the 324 ventilators, carried out by the Ministry of Health in May of this year, presumably, with a surcharge of six million dollars.
“The intervention of these two institutions is being requested, because according to the complaints made public, there would be an act of corruption in the purchase of these equipment for the treatment of COVID-19, and many of them, in addition, would be in disuse because they would cause damage to the health of patients,” said the Ombudsman, Nadia Cruz.
The Ombudsman’s office also said that hospitals in different departments have reported issues with some of the purchased equipment, with dozens of them not in service.
The Minister of Health, Eidy Roca, and the Vice Minister of Transparency, Guido Melgar, have denied that there was a surcharge in the purchase of the 324 Chinese respirators, although they did admit that some of them had defects.
Coup authorities have tried to say that the millions in surcharges have gone towards a range of costs including storage, training, installation, insurance, warranty, administrative costs, maintenance, biosecurity costs, and taxes.
Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) lawmaker, Edgar Montaño, said that they will not sit idly by or keep silent in the face of a new case of corruption by the defacto Executive.
MAS presidential candidate, Luis Arce, said that this ventilator purchase shows that authorities are not interested in life of health, tweeting that people are suffering under corruption and abandonment by the regime.
Back on May 25, the Auditor General announced that it would carry out "audits of all contracts for the acquisition of goods for the health emergency caused by the coronavirus" following the first major corruption scandal that resulted in a change of Health Ministers.
The purchase of the 324 medical equipment from the Chinese company Yueshen Medical Equipment was made in May.
A corruption scandal involving the purchase of COVID-19 tests, through a Miami intermediary, was revealed earlier in August and the first major ventilators scandal came to light in May, when former Health Minister Marcelo Navajas was arrested for what appears to have been embezzlement by the defacto authorities.