Sep 07, 2016 News
Weeks after a controversial drug storage bond deal made the news, a private citizen is threatening
litigation, if the contract is not rescinded.
According to documents seen by Kaieteur News, Majeed Hussain, a resident of 118 Avenue A, Diamond, East Bank Demerara, has promised to take the matter to Court if the deal is not annulled.
In a lawyer’s letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health yesterday, Hussain in his capacity as a citizen and a taxpayer of Guyana vowed to file legal proceedings against the State if the deal is not rescinded within seven days.
“If you fail to do so, I have firm instructions to institute legal proceedings challenging the legality of the said agreement without further notice.”
Hussain’s contention surrounds a deal inked by the Government and local businessman Lawrence Singh. Singh, the principal of Linden Holdings Incorporated had entered an agreement with the government via Public Health Minister Dr. George Norton, for the rental of a storage bond located at Sussex Street, Albouystown.
However, last month when Minister Norton sought to defend the deal, he was unable to give a plausible explanation to the Parliamentary Opposition.
Norton had claimed that the agreement was in the interest of cost effectiveness. He had explained that the company was selected to store drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Ministry of Public Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation instead of New GPC, which is owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi (Bobby)
Ramroop, because the latter’s rental fees per month was $19.2M while the other entity, Linden Holding Inc. would cost the government $12.5M.
But New GPC, in a subsequent statement, debunked Norton’s claims. The company said it has been storing pharmaceuticals at its warehouse without charges to the Government for more than a decade.
It was also pointed out that there was no need for the added storage space since Government has an equipped storage bond facility at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
The Public Health Minister has since issued a public apology for “misleading the nation”.
However, the government via a three member sub-committee inclusive of Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman and Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo defended the need for the Sussex Street bond.
The Ministers claimed 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 members also said 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.
But Hussain is not buying the Government’s explanation for keeping the agreement.
In the legal letter to the State Agency, he outlined that there are a number of defects with the deal.
Based on a review of the deal, Hussain said that he observed among other things that the building is rented for the purpose of “a professional office.’’
“I am aware that the Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, informed the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly on the 8th day of August, 2016, that the said premises were rented as bond for the storage of drugs and pharmaceuticals purchased and procured for the public health system of Guyana. But no clause in the said tenancy agreement refers to the (rented) premises being used for the purpose identified by the Minister.”
Additionally, Hussain noted that the Minister further confirmed in the Committee of Supply that the procurement of the leased premises was not done in accordance with the Procurement Act, Chapter 73:05.
“I am to also inform you that the procurement of this premises was done in absolute disregard and in violation of the Procurement Act, Chapter 73:05, and therefore the said rental agreement is ultra vires, unreasonable, irrational, whimsical, arbitrary, capricious, constitutes a fraud upon public funds, is unlawful, null, void and of no effect.”
The document drafted by Attorneys at Nandlall and Associates further described the monthly rental agreed upon as unreasonable, irrational, excessive, arbitrary, and capricious.
According to the letter, the deal constitutes a fraud upon public funds, is unlawful, null, void and of no effect.
“I am to further inform you that the leased premises is absolutely unfit and unsuitable for the purpose of storing drugs and pharmaceuticals for the public health system of Guyana and therefore, the decision to rent the said demised premises for that purpose, is unreasonable, irrational, whimsical, arbitrary, capricious, constitutes a fraud upon public funds, is unlawful, null, void and of no effect,” he outlined.
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