… once they get exposed they start behaving themselves – Dr. Luncheon
The ruling Administration is banking on public scrutiny to ensure that the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) does not overprice the drugs it sells to Government.
At least this is according to Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, when he interfaced with media operatives this past week.
The New GPC has been approved as the sole prequalified supplier of drugs to the government which has raised fears that the company could potentially sell drugs to government at an exorbitant price.
When asked what is in place to ensure that this does not happen, Dr Luncheon’s response was “public scrutiny.”
Dr Luncheon said that companies would not be unresponsive to public commentary since they would want to protect their reputations.
“The fact that I expose you for let’s say overcharging me and it becomes a matter of public knowledge you don’t believe it would have an impact on your resolve to do the same wickedness again and again?” questioned Dr Luncheon.
Dr Luncheon said it is his belief that companies look to protect their image and reputations “and once they get exposed and the whole world ketch on to their wickedness they tend to conform, they behave, they start behaving themselves.”
New GPC has in the past been accused of selling overpriced drugs.
The company is owned by Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop.
The company was recently exposed as selling overpriced drugs and an order by a New York Court Judge explicitly discredited government’s contention that the overpricing only occurred with small amounts of drugs supplied.
A week ago, Head of State, Donald Ramotar, echoed the sentiments of Minister of Health, Bheri Ramsaran who had tried to defend the purchases from New GPC, which has been supplying Government with drugs to the tune of billions of dollars for 15 years – since 1999 to be exact.
After a press conference at State House, Ramotar told this publication that the items with high prices that were identified by Kaieteur News were insignificant to the overall purchases made by the government.
He said that these items were small in quantity and when one looks at the deal on the entire package, the overall transaction is more than satisfactory.
A similar explanation was given two years ago by Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran.
Ramsaran had stated that this media house had zeroed-in on items which it said were overpriced but these were insignificant since they were just a couple tubes of Ketoconazole cream.
However, invoices submitted to the New York court by Dr. Ramroop tell a contradictory story.
They debunked the defence by President Ramotar and the Health Minister, Bheri Ramsaran.
New GPC had been asked to supply the invoices to the court. They made strenuous attempts to avoid doing so.
Their refusal prompted the judge, Justice Joan Kenney, to compel the company to provide the invoices.
The lawyer for New GPC then asked the court that the information be sealed. This was to ensure that there were no public disclosures of the information contained in the invoices.
The judge refused the request. She told the New GPC lawyer, Ray Beckerman, that as long as it involves taxpayers’ money, the public has a right to know.
One such invoice, dated 2011/09/30 revealed that the item Ketoconazole, which was identified by the Kaieteur News, amounted to the largest single item of the $59.2M contract; certainly not insignificant as the Government officials tried to suggest.
In fact, it is more than one-third of the total invoice price.
The invoice showed that there were 8,212 tubes of Ketoconazole at a price of $2,647 each. This works out to a total of $21.7M for that item alone.
Kaieteur News through its agent sourced the same drug from an Indian company for $80 per tube.
Had the Ministry paid $80 per tube, it would have only cost taxpayers $656,960.
This meant that the Government paid $21M more for an order that could be sourced for $656,960.
New GPC has now been selected to be the ONLY prequalified supplier of drugs to Government.
With New GPC alone selected to supply government with drugs to the tune of billions of dollars, there will be no ‘competitive pricing.’
Head of State, Ramotar, said that this is a matter that would have to be sorted when the pre-qualification process is repeated.
That would be three years from now.
What this means is that the New GPC will for the next three years sell drugs to government at whatever price it chooses.
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