Parliament’s special committee to investigate drugs purchases in detail
… APNU alarmed by Ministers’ cover-up of $90M storage payments
Parliament’s largest Opposition group, A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) says it will be asking a special committee to investigate Government’s decision to unfairly grant one company billions of dollars in drugs contracts under unclear circumstances.
For years, one company was consistently grabbing up the contracts with other importers now breaking their silence saying that they were sidelined but will no longer keep quiet.
In early 2010, the Cabinet of Ministers, under former President Bharrat Jagdeo, made a decision to allow New GPC, a company with which he reportedly has close ties, to be granted hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.
It was the same year that New GPC may have failed to deliver $222M in drugs.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which examines the Auditor General’s annual report on how state funds are spent, was told last week that attempts are now being made… two years later… to determine how much drugs the New GPC did not deliver.
New GPC, through its principal, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, in recent months has attacked the independent media houses -Kaieteur News and Stabroek News. Kaieteur News, especially, has been sued several times for hundreds of millions of dollars by New GPC for questioning the contracts.
Over the weekend, International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), a private drugs importer, claimed that it was sidelined and that Government may have deviated from procurement procedures in not allowing New GPC to lodge a performance bond, equivalent to about 10 per cent of the contract price, which would allow for a recouping of monies should the contract develop problems.
Health officials have admitted that they took no action to sanction New GPC.
There were more shocking disclosures of how the company may have unfairly benefitted. Not only was New GPC granted billions of dollars in contracts under unclear circumstances, but it was paid more than $90M between late 2007 and the end of December 2012 for storing the same drugs it was ordered to deliver.
When questions about measures made to secure these drugs at the New GPC compound at the former Sanata Complex, Industrial Site, surfaced, Members of Parliament for the Opposition expressed alarm.
According to APNU yesterday, it is deeply concerned “at the callous manner in which the administration continues to distribute the nation’s assets to persons who are favorites of the administration.”
APNU’s Joe Harmon said the recent revelations from the PAC concerning the vast sums of money spent on drugs by the Ministry of Health are nothing short of scandalous.
“A recent report of the Public Accounts Committee meeting indicated that contract for the supply of drugs was given to New GPC in 2010 on a single source authorization by the Cabinet of Guyana. Monies for this contract were paid in advance. New GPC did not deliver $222M worth of drugs in 2010 yet this entity was awarded approximately $1B worth of contracts in 2011.”
Harmon was heavily critical of the decision to allow New GPC to store drugs on its premises.
Government has been claiming that it lacks storage space for drugs.
The secret $90-plus million payments only came to light last week after health officials admitted that New GPC was paid for the storage.
Government Ministers and New GPC, in attempting to justify the company’s suitability for being awarded drug contracts, have been saying that one of the main factors in using them was because of the free storage.
APNU said that it has taken note of the government officials’ statements on television defending New GPC and the false claim of free storage, despite clearly knowing that $1.5M was being paid for the services per month.
“In view of these recent revelations by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), APNU calls for a halt to this hemorrhaging of the Nation’s finances and that a criminal investigation be conducted into the matter.
In the meantime all of these single sourced contracts issued for the supply of drugs by the Ministry of Health should be placed under the urgent microscope of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).”