ICW Highlights Potential Conflict of Interest in PCR Test Pricing

 The government has lowered the price limit for the Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test by 45%. However, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) assessed that there was a potential conflict of interest in the pricing of the PCR test.

As is known, Circular Letter Number HK.02.02/I/2845/2021 concerning the Highest Tariff Limit for PCR Examination was set by the Director General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health, Abdul Kadir. Likewise with the old rule, the price of a PCR test of Rp 900 thousand was set by the same person.

ICW researcher Wana Alamsyah said on the other hand, Abdul Kadir also served as President Commissioner at PT Kimia Farma Tbk. Therefore, he considers it a potential conflict of interest.

"We know that Kimia Farma also serves PCR examinations. How can someone who set the PCR rate also be in the position of President Commissioner?" Wana said in a virtual press conference, Friday (20/8).

 Meanwhile, the pricing for the PCR test of IDR 900 thousand is set on October 5, 2020. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health has only lowered the price for the PCR test on August 16, 2021.

Wana said that the PCR price reduction was only carried out 10 months later because there was a reluctance to evaluate the price because the policy was set by the person providing the service. Moreover, the acceptability potential of PCR assays is enormous.

"When there is a potential conflict of interest, there is no government effort. There is a tendency to normalize conflicts of interest," he said.

Abdul Kadir's position was allegedly in conflict with Law Number 25 of 2009 concerning Public Services and Law Number 19 of 2003 concerning BUMN. Article 17 of Law 25/2009 states that executors are prohibited from concurrently serving as commissioners or administrators of business organizations for implementers from government agencies, state-owned enterprises, and regionally-owned enterprises.

In the new regulation, the price for PCR examinations is changed to Rp 495 thousand for the Java-Bali area and Rp 525 thousand outside Java-Bali. Thus, there is a difference between the old price and the new price for the PCR test of IDR 405 thousand.

ICW also takes into account the potential benefits of PCR service providers. During the period October 2020-August 2021, the potential for PCR service providers to reach Rp 10.46 trillion.

This figure is obtained from the price difference multiplied by the PCR examination rate. "This is a very large number, especially in the context of the pandemic when it is difficult for some people to find work and they are exposed to Covid-19 and have to undergo a PCR test," he said.

LaporCovid-19 volunteer Amanda Tan said the high price of the PCR test had an impact on residents who were reluctant to carry out independent PCR tests. "Because of the high cost of testing," he said.

Meanwhile, the PCR examination through the puskesmas requires the public to wait a long time. Not only that, the results of the PCR test were not immediately released quickly. "This has the potential to hamper further health services," he said.

Abdul Kadir's rebuttal

Confirmed separately, Abdul Kadir said the commissioner's position had nothing to do with PCR pricing. He said the price of the test was determined through an audit of the State Audit Board and Development (BPKP).

"There's nothing to do with it because I'm only the president commissioner for three months. Even though the first SE was last year. There's absolutely no relationship," he said when contacted by Katadata.co.id.

He also said that Kimia Farma does not have a large number of laboratories. For that, there is no interest to benefit the state-owned company.

Kadir said he coincidentally served as the Director General of Health and Health and made SE. Meanwhile, the cost details are calculated by the state auditor by referring to the market price.

Kadir confirmed that there is still the potential for a decrease in the price of the PCR test. "We are still proposing to the government for the exemption of import duty for PCR reagents, so if it is approved, the price is cheaper, the price will definitely go down," he said.

Source: Katadata


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