I refer to two letters in yesterday’s Kaieteur News: one is written by Suresh Ganesh captioned “Ansa Mc Al is dodging the issue”. In his letter, Ganesh tells us that “whilst I am all for Caricom, I would give some priority to firms that employ Guyanese in the process or invest in the necessary infrastructure” and that “in Trinidad only Trinidadian forms [does he mean firms?] are accepted to supply the pharmaceuticals for that country’s Health Ministry”
In the second letter, captioned “Ansa has no reason to be peeved,” Annalisa Ally opines that “it is known that every government in every country of the world seeks to protect its own business community. It will therefore even pass laws to protect local investment as a whole”
If one were of a suspicious mind, one would be forced to find a common link between these two letters – discrimination on behalf of local businesses.
Both of these people seem to have conveniently overlooked, either accidentally or deliberately, the fact that anyone who has been following this matter in the media, should be convinced that the pre qualifications for the supply of drugs to Guyana were tailor-made and biased to allow the government to award the contract solely to the New GPC; and secondly, in 2001, Trinidad and Guyana along with other countries in the Caribbean signed the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which came about due to the establishment of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, and which had as its core value, a resolution to establish conditions which would facilitate access by their nationals to the collective resources of the Region on a non-discriminatory basis; and which incorporated the following article 7 into the treaty which all members of Caricom, including Guyana, signed:
1. Within the scope of application of this Treaty and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality only, shall be prohibited.
2. The Community Council shall, after consultation with the competent Organs, establish rules to prohibit any such discrimination.
I have not examined the treaty we swore to line by line, but I have scanned it, and I cannot see anywhere that a national or company located in any Caricom member country, who is a signatory to this treaty, can be barred from bidding on any tender etc. within the region, so I therefore question the accuracy of Suresh’s letter that Trinidad is discriminating against its Caricom partners when it comes to not accepting any bids to supply pharmaceuticals to its Ministry Of Health. If they are doing so, it is probably illegal, and whoever wants to approach the CCJ can do so for redress.
And Ms Ally is advised to seek enlightenment on this treaty, since it conflicts completely with what she has written that “we must give protection to our people” the obligation of government is to seek to obtain, for all of their people, the cheapest source of acquisition of the article under question, and not to make one probably uncompetitive Guyanese businessman richer, especially since we have this treaty saying that it is not allowed.
This Caribbean Single Market and Economy has given Guyana access to the CCJ, I am sure that there are those in the Guyana Government who would have liked for this Treaty to disappear, since they enjoyed having all Guyanese justice stop at the Kingston beacon. But it is there now, and they will have to live with it. And I for one thank the Lord, every day, that it is so.
I am advised that since this is a Caricom matter arising out of a treaty, Ansa McAl can approach the CCJ directly – as the Surinamese company did a few weeks ago regarding discrimination against them for a violation of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, i.e. since they had to pay an environmental tax for the plastic bottles, but the competing Guyana companies did not. The CCJ ruled in their favour.
Since it was a violation of a Caricom Treaty, direct access to the CCJ was allowed, and they didn’t have to go through the Guyana courts to establish their rights.
I had promised myself not to write on any matter except on the law, sugar and broadcasting. Frankly, this matter concerns me, since GuySuCo is attempting to sell packaged and other sugars to the Caricom countries under this same CSME arrangement.
We as a nation have to ask ourselves if it is right for us to create special conditions, which are probably not necessary, and to overlook the complaints of Ansa Mc Al about discrimination, when so much else is at stake, just to give a particular entity a monopoly in Guyana to supply our drugs at an exorbitant price to our poor citizens, since there will be no competitors.
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