PETALING JAYA: The government should end monopoly concessions in the healthcare system and review preferential policies for Bumiputera companies, a policy centre said today.
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said the government practice of exclusive concessions created a monopoly for consessionaire companies, and granted them major influence over the health system.
The centre’s head, Azrul Mohd Khalib, said an unhealthy overdependence on these companies had developed, with the belief that these companies would soon become “too big to fail”.
A more competitive and transparent system for drug procurement and supply chain framework would be in the best interest of patients, he said.
Past preferential policies for Bumiputera companies had encouraged the creation and dependence on middlemen between suppliers and the health ministry, resulting in rigging of tenders, Ali Baba-ism and rent-seeking.
Millions of ringgit could be saved if suppliers were allowed to negotiate directly with the health ministry.
PPBM strategist Rais Hussin said Pakatan Harapan was against any form of monopolistic practices, but the problem was not the Bumiputera policies but their implementation, which resulted in a privileged few becoming tender agents and forming a cartel.
In the days of Barisan Nasional, Rais charged that it was the “Umnoputras” who controlled everything, through the rent-seeking mindset and the award of lucrative contracts for companies linked to politicians.
“Bumiputera companies still need help. But being a branch or division chief or a Supreme Council Member shouldn’t be a criterion.
“There must be due diligence in awarding contracts, the companies must have a good track record, we must look at the personalities, expertise, experience, and capabilities of the companies,” he said adding the implementation of the policies needed to be improved.
Rais said Bumiputera empowerment needed to be reinvented to help expedite the process of teaching them “how to fish”.
The federal government has set up a taskforce to examine government procurement, which came in the wake of an expose of companies linked to politicians close to the previous government which controlled the supply of billions of ringgit worth of medical drugs to the government.