Aug 26, 2016 News
Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds is deeply disappointed
in the Government’s handling of the controversial Sussex Street bond deal.
The political activist said that it is important to note that the nature of the deal and how it was awarded in a less than transparent manner is “a stark reminder of Guyana’s darkest days” under the former regime.
Dr. Hinds said it is unfortunate that the Government seems to be facing some of the same problems.
The transparency advocate said, “I believe that the process should be transparent and adhere to rules that are democratic and fair.”
He also hammered home the point that the contract for a warehouse to store the nation’s drugs was sole sourced to Lawrence Singh of Linden Holdings Inc. In this regard, Dr. Hinds said that sole sourcing should be a very last resort, since it is fraught with possibilities of favouritism.
Hinds asserted, “I think this whole situation with the bond should be scrapped and subjected to transparent process. This government came to office with the expressed promise to clean up the mess of the previous government, so it should hold itself, and be held, to a higher standard.”
The WPA Executive Member also knocked Government’s excuses for sole sourcing the contract. He reminded that an international report categorically states that the state-owned Diamond warehouse can store all of the nation’s drugs and supplies and even more. However a Cabinet sub-committee is still insisting that the rental of a storage bond in Sussex Street is necessary.
The three-man committee comprised Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
Even though the sub-committee acknowledged that the Diamond facility can indeed store drugs for the entire nation, it said that there are other factors which must be considered. It was determined that it is not safe to have all of the nation’s drugs and medical supplies in one facility, in case of a fire or some natural disaster that can have calamitous consequences to the national health care system.
The sub-committee stated too that the location of the Diamond warehouse can affect distribution of medical supplies, given traffic congestion issues that are associated with the East Bank thoroughfare.
In the circumstances, Dr. Hinds maintains that the reasons given for sole sourcing the contract are shaky at best.
However, Prime Minister Nagamootoo said that the possibility of a fire and the issue of traffic congestion were just two of the many reasons considered for embracing the contract.
Nagamootoo noted that there was a visit to the Diamond facility and the Sussex Street Bond. He said that committee members who visited the Sussex Street bond were satisfied that it was suitable for use as provided for under the contract. He said that the members recommended that the bond be used until the Government is able to build an alternative facility.
The Prime Minister said that when the bond proposal came to Cabinet initially, the issue of traffic congestion affecting the access to medical supplies at the Diamond facility was not raised. He said that it might be used as a rationalization for the continued use of the Sussex Street bond.
Nagamootoo said what was advanced was the necessity of a new site, consequent upon the demand of the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (New GPC) for Government to either pay a rent for the facilities or take its drugs elsewhere.
Nagamootoo said that when Government made it clear that the New GPC was not going to be enjoying sole sourced contracts anymore and that “an era of competitiveness” is what is going to take over, “we were basically told to take our drugs and get lost.”
Nagamootoo was also asked why the committee did not address the fact that they gave a contract to someone who is inexperienced in the storage of drugs and pharmaceuticals. He replied that Government “is not renting the contractor but the facility”.
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