Irked by non-payment of dues since June 2017, vendors and suppliers of life-saving drugs and surgical items have set an ultimatum of November 20 for the civic body to clear the bills. The vendors and suppliers have threatened to stop supplies to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals if their dues are not cleared before November 20.
Payment for 12 vendors/suppliers, worth Rs 22.78 crores, against supplies made with payment terms of 30 days is outstanding, they said. “We have to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the 20th of every month. However, the BMC has not cleared our payments for the past four to five months due to which we do not have money,” said a vendor. According to the vendors, the list they have submitted does not include the pre-GST outstanding amount.
Non-payment of dues has brought together the vendors and suppliers who have threatened the civic body and its officials with consequences if the bills are not cleared before November 20.
The civic body had promised to resolve the issue by November 1. The payments, however, are
still pending. A vendor said: “We have been extremely patient, as we wanted to avoid inconveniencing poor patients in any way. However, BMC has been exploiting us. If they do not fulfil our demand, we will be forced to stop all supplies of medicines and life-saving items to prevent further losses.”
Vendors and suppliers have complained that their payments, allegedly running into crores, are pending since June. “We have been supplying medicines, drugs and medical devices to BMC-run hospitals on scheduled rate contract and local purchases. However, since the implementation of GST, our bills for supplies made pre-GST and post-GST have not been cleared. The administration is making us run from pillar to post for our payments,” said a vendor.
“They asked us to submit our Harmonised System Nomenclature (HSN) codes, which we did. The central purchase department has asked us to submit an undertaking and cost break up of pre-GST and post-GST bills/annexure certified by a Chartered Accountant. We are being harassed in the name of submitting documents. But there is no sign of clearing the dues till date. Despite all this, we have continued the supply on humanitarian ground.”
The halt in supply may affect BMC-run hospitals in the long run if the payment issue is not resolved quickly. According to Dr Avinash Supe, the dean at KEM Hospital, there is always a reserve stock of drugs and surgical equipment for emergencies. “But with suppliers threatening to halt the supplies indefinitely from November 20, availability of essential drugs and medical equipment, routinely used for surgeries, would be hit badly,” he said.
For instance, Delpha Drugs supplies intravenous fluid, which is routinely required to control body fluids in patients for re-hydration and treatment of infections using antibiotics, management of cancer patients and for patients after surgeries. Delpha Drugs has dues amounting to almost Rs 1 crore. If the supplies are stopped, routine treatment may get affected.
Bayer Zydus Pharma supplies medical contrast medium, which is required in medical imaging tests by changing contrast of vessels and fluids in body for better diagnostic tests. Several other suppliers provide the BMC hospitals with life-saving drugs used during surgeries and treatment of diseases.
A vendor said: “It is the BMC’s SAP system that has some technical problem in calculating our bills with GST. We have already submitted break-ups, including GST. We even offered them to deduct the 6 per cent and pay our dues. But they have returned our bills and held back our payments.”
According to the vendors, the BMC commissioner had set a deadline of June 20 to clear all payments up to June. But it was not met, alleged the suppliers. The payments post June had been held up due to technical issues faced by the accounts department over including GST in the system. Hence payment from June to October is pending.
Despite repeated attempts, officials of the Central Purchase Department of the BMC could not be reached for comment.