Prequalification mechanism used by Health Ministry to come under scrutiny – AFC
The prequalification mechanism used by the Ministry of Health to award contracts for medicines and pharmaceuticals to some contractors, particularly the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (New GPC), is expected to come under scrutiny by the Parliamentary Economic Services Commission – slated to be established within a month.
Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, disclosed that the Committee of Selection and the Parliamentary Management Committee are assiduously working to establish the Parliamentary Economic Services Commission within a month’s time.
“I have spoken to my member of the Parliamentary Management Committee, Moses Nagamootoo, and he has indicated that approximately within a month that should be done, so that we can start scrutinizing certain economic agencies, authorities and even Ministries,” Ramjattan said.
He related that scrutinizing the prequalification of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals by the Ministry is a major priority of the AFC when the Committee is established.
“A big priority area is those contracts awarded in the billions of dollars to the New GPC as against other companies that could provide the drugs at far cheaper prices,” Ramjattan stressed.
According to the 2011 Report of the Auditor General, New GPC, a local company prequalified by the Government to supply pharmaceuticals and medical items, received a whopping 80 percent of the contracts. The Ministry for that year expended US$13.3M for pharmaceuticals and other purchases. And, New GPC received contracts to the tune of US$10.6 million.
Ramjattan opined that prequalification is a mechanism of the Ministry of Health to give friends and family contracts, although the same medicines can be accessed cheaper from other sources.
Other areas the AFC said it would be examining in the Committee are the National Industrial & Commercial Investments Ltd, the Contingency Fund, Sugar, and contracts awarded to Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited.
“Right now we understand that the Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited’s pumps have not been delivered to NDIA and a number of the chief people in NDIA have extended the mobile pumps and the vertical pumps delivery date to the end of the year… and we are calling into these institutions to find out if it is so, but are not in any way getting any answers.”
Such behavior – withholding information – may see the AFC asking Parliamentary questions to get answers, Ramjattan added.
Earlier last month it was reported that Surendra Engineering Corporation Limited was late in delivering 14 large capacity drainage pumps. The US$4M agreement for the pumps was signed in May 2011 between the Ministry of Agriculture, under the then Minister, Robert Persaud, and Surendra Engineering. The pumps were to be initially delivered since December 2011, and an extension was granted to September 2012.