Importers cry foul at $1.3B secret pharmaceutical award to Ramroop’s New GPC
…deal smacks of gross corruption
The award of a $1.3B contract for the importation of pharmaceuticals is being queried by the
other companies that import drugs.
Three major importers, among them the International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) said that they were never made aware of the contract; that there was no tender and that if there was, they were never allowed to tender.
The award was made to the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) in a continuation of a policy that had been in place for years. Owned by Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation had a monopoly of pharmaceutical imports for the Ministry of Health and for the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The Auditor General had cause to criticize the methods used to ensure that the GPC monopolised the drug imports. He pointed to irregular tender practices which saw the government actually splitting contracts to avoid going to tender for the imports of the drugs.
The law dictates that imports over a certain amount of money must go to public tender. Instead, the government always ensured that the contracts were below the range of the tender board and simply offered the awards to Ramroop’s New GPC.
The political opposition recognized the very close relationship between Dr Ramroop and the then President Bharrat Jagdeo. Dr Ramroop was identified as Jagdeo’s best friend. They challenged the contract splitting, but the government always used its majority in Parliament to defeat motions that sought to change the rules that permitted contract splitting.
Asked to comment on the recent award of $1.3 billion to GPC for pharmaceutical imports, head of International Pharmaceutical Agency, Lloyd Singh, said that when he learnt of the award, he attempted to get an explanation from Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran. He said that up to yesterday he has not been afforded a response. He said that his calls to the Minister have gone unanswered.
“Bheri (Ramsaran) is not talking. No one is.”
This award is a clear case of the government rushing to continue to enhance the earnings of the New GPC before the establishment of the Procurement Commission, said Carl Greenidge, of A Partnership for National Unity.
“Suppliers must come out and stop this nonsense,” said Lloyd Singh when approached for a comment.