The brouhaha that erupted over a decision by the Ministry of Health to revise the prequalification criteria for drug suppliers to government has now landed in the courts.
Lloyd Singh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) Guyana Inc, has moved to the court against Attorney General Anil Nandlall, with a view to having the decision by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), to name new Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) as the sole prequalified supplier, dismissed.
According to Singh in his petition to the court, the move by the Ministry was discriminatory of itself, or in its effect and decision.
He further argues that the decision by the Ministry was unconstitutional, in that it violated Article 149 and as such has asked that the court order the decision that New GPC be the sole prequalified supplier of drugs and medical supplies, null and void.
Singh’s petition is also seeking, “a declaration that the revised evaluation criteria for prequalification for the supply and delivery of pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies for the period 2014-2016, are so heavily and obviously weighted in favour of a particular local supplier of pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies to the government, that it renders the prequalification process unfair and unreasonable and deprives the applicant (IPA) of equality before the law or equal protection and benefit of the law and of the full and equal enjoyments of all rights and freedoms in contravention of Article 149 (D) of the Constitution is null, void and of no legal effect.”
Singh wants the court to declare that the decision by NPTAB, that IPA did not satisfy the requirements, is unreasonable, unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.
According to the court documents filed by IPA, the company is looking to have the court declare that the revised criteria set out by the Ministry, violates the constitution and as such has no legal effect.
He is also seeking a conservatory order suspending or staying the decision by the NPTAB, that the New GPC is the only prequalified supplier to Government over the next three years.
According to Singh, his company has been incorporated since 1990 and has been importing and selling pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in wholesale quantities to the Ministry of Health.
Singh in his writ, states that in November last year, the Ministry of Health advertised in the state owned Guyana Chronicle, an invitation for companies to submit tenders to be prequalified for the supply and delivery of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and consumables from 2014 to 2016.
According to Singh, IPA complied with this request and last February submitted an application which satisfied all of the requirements.
He argues however that the revised criteria by the Ministry were only made public after the Ministry would have advertised for companies to tender bids to be considered.
According to Singh, the revised criteria which features a point system and some mandatory provisions, “arbitrarily and dramatically altered the previous criteria without discussions with the stakeholders and without notice to the applicant (IPA) and other suppliers.”
He noted too in his writ that in July last, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, announced that the New GPC was the only company that met the prequalification criteria and as such Cabinet offered it’s no objection.
According to Singh, IPA was never formally informed of the decision by the Tender Board or Cabinet.
Singh said that he subsequently wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, who in turn informed him that the matter was with the NPTAB.
According to Singh, he has written to the Ministry protesting the decision by the Tender Board but “did not receive the courtesy of an acknowledgment of the said letter.”
Under the contentious revised criteria, bidders had to demonstrate a gross annual turnover of US$5M and net assets of US$2.5M.
Another criterion was that maximum score was to be awarded to applicants who would have paid $50M in Corporate taxes, annually.
Additionally, the company that has 50 or more employees, and warehousing capacity of 30,000 square feet in the city, will also gain an edge.
New GPC is owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop who happens to be the best friend of former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
That company has been supplying the bulk of the drugs to Government for the past 15 years, ever since it was acquired by Ramroop in 1999.
New GPC has been a feature in the Auditor General’s report over the years with several instances focused on multi-million-dollar deficiencies in the procurement and supply of drugs to Government. The purchase of drugs this year is expected to surpass US$25M.
The purchases have been a major source of contention between Government and the Opposition for years now because of the seeming close relationship between its main principal and the Administration.
Ansa McAl was the first the protest the decision by Tender Board. That company had also lodged a formal complaint.
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