SCHEMES // Protective equipment, made in Moldova, exported to Poland, as COVID-19 crisis is in full swing
In full swing of a pandemic crisis, when Moldovan hospitals are facing a lack of coronavirus protective equipment and Moldovan authorities spend millions of public money on their import, an economic agent from Balti is exporting protective equipment to Poland. The equipment was exported by two air flights, operated by Ryanair, on April 11 and 14, respectively. This happened amid the ban on the export of protective equipment, obviously, with the help of the authorities, who do not assume responsibility and say they have banned the export of gloves and masks, but not of protective equipment.
The company that exported protective equipment to Poland is Miso Textile SRL. The company was founded in 2010 by the Turkish citizen Erdogan Suat, and the company Ongan Tekstil Sanayi Ve Diş Ticaret Anonim Șirketi and is specialized mainly in the production of soft furniture covers. These are produced at a factory in Balti and are exported to Germany, UK, US, Canada, China, the Russian Federation. In 2018, the company employed 544 people. In times of crisis, the company has refocused and is currently producing protective equipment.
"We tried to refocus the activity based on contracts concluded with several clients. The conditions of one of them stipulate that we import the raw material from the sources indicated by them to produce protective equipment for general use, disposable. We aim to meet the contractual conditions which we have assumed in order to be able to pay the salary arrears. The raw material was sent by the Poles on the same plane. We offered services of sewing protective equipment and we exported them ", explained for realitatea.md the company's manager Andrian Țeruș.
Prime Minister Ion Chicu wrote in a post on his Facebook page, that the commercial export of protective equipment is not restricted: "We have not banned the export of this protective equipment, called by some" medical equipment ", because from the very beginning we had enough supply on the domestic market. The situation was worse with face breathing masks and visors – banned for export".
At its meeting on 11 March, the Government adopted a decision banning the export of certain products. These are masks, medical gloves and disinfectants. Not about other protective equipment needed to protect healthcare staff.
However, there is not enough supply of such protective equipment on the internal market. On March 13, the Center for Centralized Public Procurement in Health (CAPCS) announced a public tender for the emergency procurement of protective equipment for healthcare staff, in connection with the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic. The interim director of CAPCS, Sergiu Balta, announces, in a note, the economic agents about the intention to purchase 1,958,000 protective coveralls.
One month later, on April 14, CAPCS announced that it paid 3.2 million lei for 31,320 protective coveralls from the Portavita SRL company, which represents 1.6% of the necessary amount of coveralls, initially announced by CAPCS.
Meanwhile, several healthcare workers in Moldova complained about the lack of protective equipment or its poor quality. Health Minister Viorica Dumbraveanu said in a press conference that healthcare workers would not use properly the protective equipment. "They wear protective equipment, but when they take it off, they do not always respect the norms," said the Minister of Health. After the Minister's statement, an employee of the Emergency Service posted on Facebook a video showing the protective equipment of the healthcare teams who go to people suspected of COVID-19. The medical assistant requested the Health Minister first to make sure if the healthcare workers have protective equipment, before she announced that the healthcare staff do not use the protective equipment properly.
Subsequently, the staff of the Botanica Emergency Medical Assistance Station also confirmed in a post on social networks, that the protective equipment offered to the teams which go to patients suspected of COVID-19 is of low quality.
WatchDog expert Valeriu Pasha believes that the situation with the export of protective equipment to Poland reveals that "the incompetence and lack of common sense of the government costs us the doctors’ health".
"The Republic of Moldova has production capacities of this protective equipment which is very necessary. But the government's incompetence does not enable the use of the responsibilities of the state of emergency to ensure this production. The government has announced a tender to buy almost two million such protective equipment. They barely bought 31,000. In the meantime, we are the country with the highest rate of COVID-19 infection among doctors around the world. If this company from Balti found a way to bring raw material and sew for Poland, then it is possible for Moldova as well. Moreover, the lies and stuttering of the officials on this case reveal, as we are already accustomed to, that it is not really right. The state of emergency enables the Government to mobilize any state or private resources to fight the pandemic. But they don't do that, they take care of the profits of some businessmen. Either we mean the textile industry, diagnostic labs, or maybe some transport companies, the protection of the interests of the real estate mafia in Chisinau is obvious ", said the expert.
After the information about the export of the protective equipment came to the public attention, the MP Octavian Țîcu said that he would notify the General Prosecutor's Office. The MP considers that the exemption from the export ban of protective equipment when Moldova is forced to import such equipment proves the premeditation at the level of Prime Minister Chicu.
Țîcu also interpellated Ion Chicu and the Commission for Exceptional Situations and requested, among others, information about why the export of protective equipment was exempted from the list of equipment that cannot be exported during the pandemic. "We are simply witnessing outright corruption acts that cannot be tolerated anymore", the MP wrote in a post on Facebook.
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