The West Bengal Medical Service Corporation Limited (WBMSCL), a state government owned body has set an example by successfully running online payment mechanism to speed up the works of infrastructure development in the state-run hospitals.
The mechanism, which was introduced earlier, has not only accelerated the pace of the development works, but also it also helped the WBMSCL to ensure that the payments were made online. This had made the payment system hassle free which benefitted the contractors from other districts to get their dues in time.
To simplify the system further, the WBMSCL has now come up with message services controlled by a centralised mechanism so that the contractors assigned to carry out various projects in health sector can track down the status of their application of payments.
Through the newly launched message service, the contractors will get to know whether their bills were submitted to the WBMSC and if it had approved or rejected the bill.
If a bill is rejected, the contactors will get automated message mentioning the reason behind it. The online mechanism and message service also bring transparency in the entire system.
Working under the state health department, WBMSCL supervises the construction of all the super-speciality hospitals. It has been entrusted with creation of new health infrastructure and maintaining the existing health facilities in association with Public Works Department (PWD). It purchases, installs and maintains high end medical equipments.
All the PWD engineers, who work as ex-officio under WBMSC, were assigned to complete a particular project and they in turn initiate the tendering process.
After completion of the project, the contractors carrying out the work will submit their bills or the ‘measurement book’ to the executive engineers at their home town. The executive engineers will later send the ‘measurement book’ or the bills to the WBMSC office at Swasthy Bhavan. The bills were first deposited at the receiving section and then go to accounts department. Next the bills were processed before going for the final approval.
The contractors get information about the current position of their bills through message service. Payments were made through National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).
A senior official at WBMSC said the new method of payment has sped the works. “People no longer need to come to our office all the way from the districts for payment. Earlier, around 50 people used to visit the office for payment and many of its employees had to attend them,” he said.
“Around 600 various projects have been undertaken. It is never easy to handle all the contractors coming down to office for payments. The message and online services have helped us to carry out the projects in a better way,” a senior official of WBMSC said.
He also said that earlier they used to face problems as the payments were made to the contractors in advance and hence in many cases the projects were delayed due to the slothfulness of some contractors. In many cases it was found that the contractors had left the work half done. But now they were paid after completion of the project.
It may be mentioned that the company assigned to carry out the construction of Malda Medical College and Hopsital, Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital and the College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital in Kamarhati failed to meet the deadlines for three times and finally the health department had to terminate the company.
The construction works at all the medical colleges have been completed.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, after coming to power, had laid stress in health infrastructure and several new projects came up. Development works came to a grinding halt during the previous Left Front regime.