Instead of allowing chemists to open shops on the condition of offering maximum discount to patients, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) authorities have again auctioned shops at huge rents.
In a recent auction of five chemist shops on the PGIMER premises, the institute fetched a rent of Rs. 1.75 crore per month. The maximum rent was envisaged for a shop located inside the OPD, which was rented out for Rs. 47 lakh a month. Two shops located inside Nehru Hospital were auctioned for Rs. 88 lakh rent per month. A shop in Old Shopping Complex and one in New Shopping Complex were auctioned for Rs. 16.5 lakh and Rs. 11.25 lakh rent, respectively. Besides the rent, chemists have to pay around 10% of service tax.
Earlier this year, on the orders of the institute’s body, the PGIMER authorities had opened a shop, which was auctioned at a minimum rent of Rs. 20,000 per month on the condition that it will offer at least 57% discount on each medicine or surgical item is sells.
The recent auction has again revived the debate that whether a public institute like the PGIMER should auction the shops on such high rents, as the burden of the high rent is ultimately passed on to the common man.
“Chemists are here to do business. They are not here for charity. If one will pay such a huge rent, he will ultimately recover money from patients,” an office-bearer of the Chandigarh Chemist Association, who refused to be identified, said.
Eyebrows are being raised over the recent auction that why these five shops were not auctioned on the earlier pattern. “It would have benefitted patients,” a professor from the medicine department, who wished not to be named, said. There are 18 chemist shops on the PGI premises. Each shop has to offer a minimum 15% discount on branded medicines and 30% on generic medicines and surgical items.