TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab on Thursday afternoon signed a 11.4 million US dollar central procurement agreement with a Chinese company for the procurement of protective masks, gloves, goggles, suits and other types of personal protective equipment.
According to Aab, personal protective equipment suppliers have been sought for some time, but individual companies are able to supply sufficient quantities of certified goods at reasonable prices, spokespeople for the Ministry of Finance said.
This week, the government's crisis committee tasked the public administration minister with the organization of a central procurement. A supplier was found as a result of cooperation between the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the North Estonia Medical Center. As a result of the work of the joint team, it was possible to enter into a procurement agreement with a China-based company on Thursday.
"The extremely stressful negotiations lasted for over 12 hours. In Estonia, we started work at 3 a.m. in cooperation with specialists from the North Estonia Medical Center and the Ministry of Social Affairs," Aab said. "The Estonian embassy in China was behind the successful negotiations. Among other things, they helped to make sure that it was a trustworthy company. Special thanks to Ambassador Andres Unga and his team as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the minister added.
The order placed is extensive as it includes the needs of hospitals, care homes, the Rescue Board, the Police and Border Guard Board and other agencies. "We ordered 7.6 million protective masks alone. Added to the order were gloves, protective suits, protective goggles and other types of protective equipment," the minister said. "The total cost of the order is 11.4 million US dollars," he added.
The order is to be completed in 10-20 days, but it is also likely that the first part of the delivery will be received sooner. Other smaller orders are also in the works to ensure critical protective equipment before the Chinese supply arrives, the minister said. "In order to disperse risks, hospitals and ministries are trying to procure protective equipment from different suppliers. Smaller quantities have already arrived and have been distributed," Aab added. "There is a strong demand for protective equipment worldwide, with conventional contracts and supply chains failing. That is why everything has to be procured through extraordinary orders," he said.
The process of entering into the agreement was also supported by the State Shared Service Center, which provides support services for the organization of public procurement.
At the same time, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is working with Estonian entrepreneurs who have offered their help and are able to launch the production of various types of protective equipment.