A new state committee due to begin operating next year will manage procurements for state hospitals, which are some 4.5 billion euros in debt to suppliers, health officials said yesterday. In overseeing the task of supplying the country’s hospitals with equipment, the Health Procurements Committee will be responsible for a budget of some 4 billion euros next year. Suppliers will be paid by the committee and not by hospitals, as is currently the case. By stopping the practice of delayed payments to medical suppliers and rationalizing the system, the committee aims to achieve economies of scale in procurements, according to Evangelos Arabatzis, who will head the initiative. There will also be regular tenders for the supply of various types of equipment to ensure that it is being acquired at competitive prices.