STO hands over biomedical equipment worth US$900,000 to the health ministry

The State Trading Organisation (STO) has handed over biomedical equipment worth US$900,000 to the health ministry.

Yesterday (December 20) STO Managing Director Adam Azim handed over 1500 pieces of equipment including patient monitors, ECG machines, defibrillators, and vital sign monitors to acting health minister Mohamed Nazim at a ceremony at Nasandhura Palace Hotel.

The shipment is the first in a US$4million venture to provide all necessary equipment to all the hospitals and health centers in the Maldives.

As the STO marks its 50th anniversary this year, the company has expanded its services in the islands, launching an ambitious programme along with the health ministry to provide ambulances and establish pharmacies on every island.

The government intends to establish ambulance services in all 196 inhabited islands by June 2015, Nazim has said. The STO has been commissioned to buy 54 ambulances worth US$2.5 million.

Basic Services

Speaking to the press on the STO’s anniversary yesterday, Azim said the company’s most significant success is that it has consistently provided Maldivian citizens with fuel, staples, and pharmaceuticals.

The state-owned STO is the country’s primary wholesaler, responsible for bringing in the vast majority of basic foodstuffs such as rice and flour, as well as other imported commodities such as electrical goods.

Azim told Haveeru last week that the STO’s US$114 million (MVR1.7 billion) debt was unprecedented, but that US$51 million had been paid off during his tenure as a result of reductions in expenditure. He pledged to pay off the remaining debt within three years.

According to quarterly reports, the STO earned MVR325.6 million in profits in this year’s third quarter from MVR2.1 billion worth of sales after earning MVR64.2 million in the second quarter.

Documents were confiscated from the organisation’s head office late last month, however, with the Anti Corruption Commission alleging illegal payments for advertising.

In September, Azim also launched a programme to increase national spirit among his staff. The STO workday now starts with the national anthem. The national flag is to be hoisted at all STO buildings and now adorns STO uniforms and staff cards.

The company has announced a sale in all of its 13 stores on the occasion of it’s 50th anniversary. A lucky draw with MVR200,000 worth of prizes will also be held.

Pharmaceuticals, construction materials, oil

Under the programme to establish pharmacies on every island, the STO opened up its 48th pharmacy in Kaafu Atoll Guraidhoo last month. Customers will get Aasandha healthcare coverage at all the pharmacies.

Over 1000 pharmacists – or five individuals from each island – will be trained for the newly opened facilities under an agreement with the education ministry, Azim has previously announced.

President Abdulla Yameen, speaking in Haa Alif Horafushi in November, said the new pharmacies would provide medicine at controlled and reduced prices, acknowledging that the move would affect private businesses selling medicine.

Yameen’s comments came in response to a complaint filed by Shaviyani Atoll Council at the People’s Majlis in which councillors said the STO’s pharmacies would shutdown pharmacies run by the island councils in various islands in the atoll.

The councils’ pharmacies had been established through an atoll trust fund and were among the most profitable businesses in the atoll, said the council, arguing that their closure would impact the atoll council’s MVR1.3 million social sector programme.

The Majlis threw out the petition, however, asking councilors to resolve the matter with STO.

The STO decreased oil prices for the second time in response to falling global prices last week. A litre of petrol was reduced by MVR1 and 75 laari was reduced from a litre of diesel.

The Housing Development Corporation has awarded the company with an 800 square foot plot of land near the ferry terminal in Hulhumalé for the establishment of a fuel shed, making Malé rates available to residents from next year.

The STO closed the popular Al-Fresco café at the STO Trade Center in early November to expand its supermarket, while the company also held a career guidance fair for youth in mid-November to increase awareness of opportunities available at the STO and its subsidiary companies.

In September, an agreement was signed with Maldives Association of Construction Industries to provide cut-price construction material for government projects in an attempt to restart stalled work.

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