THE National Aids Council (NAC) is now forced to pump out an extra RTGS$9 million on top of the initial $6 million in-order to pay foreign suppliers for an ARVs drug consignment that was received when the official market rate between the bond note and US dollar was still pegged at 1:1.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
In December last year, NAC revealed to a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health that they had received US$6 million worth of drugs from foreign suppliers, an amount they were struggling to settle following government’s move to separate local bond note accounts and Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) which left most local pharmacies and government institutions stranded.
In an exclusive interview with HealthTimes, NAC acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Raymond Yekeye said they have since submitted their invoices of what they owe the foreign suppliers.
“We submitted our receipts last week. I think its an issue overtaken by events. We were told to approach the banks. But with this approach, if we take the market approach the money we have to fork out will be more. With the official rate of US$1 as to RTGS$2, 50 it means we have to pump out about RTGS$15 million to our suppliers,” he said.
He also said they were waiting for other procurements since the monetary policy puts the purchase and buying of medicines on the priority list.
“We are waiting for other procurements to be paid. As per the monetary policy, medicines are now prioritised. So we are supposed to be allocated money by the central bank. So its a multi pronged approach and we are now waiting,” added Mr Yekeye.
Meanwhile, the Health and Child care Ministry is in discussions with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to address the issue of allocating funds for medication for people living with HIV AIDS.
The National AIDS Council has been failing to access adequate foreign currency allocation from the central bank as it is competing with other priority national requirements.
Last year the organisation complained of failure to convert $25 million in their account to United States Dollars for the purchase of medicines and sundries used for people living with HIV.
Addressing parliamentarians at a Parliament Capacity Building Programme last year, NAC monitoring and evaluation director Mr Amon Mpofu said there was need to prioritise allocation of foreign currency for the provision of ARVs.
Global Fund has threatened to reduce its contribution by the same proportion of funds that NAC was supposed to contribute. NAC has to source about 15 percent of the country’s ARV needs while the rest is provided by the Global Fund.
Another bone of contention has been acquittal of funds allocated as US dollars which are converted into RTGS once they enter the banking system.
NAC collects about $3 million every month which is supposed to go towards the purchase of ARVs and other essential drugs but failure to convert the money into foreign currency needed by suppliers has affected supplies.