…as $128.9B budget is approved for spending by National Assembly
Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy yesterday told the House that the Tender Board, by way of a letter, has approved purchases of drugs by the Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation without heeding the tender process as is required by the Procurement Act of 2003.
Dr Ramsammy was responding to a query by the Shadow Finance Minister, Winston Murray, who was asking the Minister if he was aware that the drug purchases were in violation of the Procurement Act.
Murray, during his Budget debate, had said that, despite being highlighted via the Auditor General’s reports and outcries by the Public Accounts Committee, the government has once again earmarked some US$10M to purchase drugs for the country through illegal means.
Murray indicated to the House that by a Cabinet decree in 2003 a decision was taken contrary to the existing law, namely the Procurement Act, that all drug purchases must be made through the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Company (NGPC).
“This is not only a brazen illegality, but it robs the country of an opportunity to ensure that it gets value for money.”
The most recent Auditor General’s report stated that the GPHC, which is now a separate entity from the Ministry of Health, continued to use the Ministry’s Cabinet approval to purchase drugs and medical supplies from specialised agencies, both locally and overseas.
Dr Ramsammy did add that the recommendations by the Auditor General had been adhered to.
Some $117M has also been approved by the House to assist patients who would require services which are provided outside the purview of the Public Sector.
The Health Minister did promise to make the letter from the Tender Board available as soon as possible.
The information was disclosed during the final day of the scrutiny of the estimates of the National Assembly, after which the $128.9B budget was approved by the House.
Among some of the highlights of yesterday’s session was the fact that the Health Ministry has in its care monies for salaries to pay staff that it intends to hire this year.
There is also an additional $1.2B earmarked to lend the Guyana Sugar Corporation to commence construction of a packaging plant at Enmore, East Coast Demerara.
The loan is expected to be repaid within 10 years.
Some $170M has also been approved for overseas trips by Ministers and Government officials.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jennifer Webster, said that the money will be used conservatively.
There was also the approval of some $800M for the creation of an Information Communication Technology park to be built at an as-yet-unknown location.
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