When rumours first surfaced about the Public Health Ministry’s decision to utilise a bond at Sussex Street, Georgetown, it essentially spurred a controversy. There were many questions raised, including whether there was a genuine
need for the facility, and the added cost that such a move would attract.
The Sussex Street bond was rented under the tenure of immediate past Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, who had defended the Ministry’s use of the facility. The bond which is said to be the property of Linden Holdings Company is being utilised at a rental cost of $12.5 million per month.
There are reports that suggest that a three-year contract has been signed for use of the facility, although it has not been certified for the storage of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in keeping with international standards set out by the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation.
The controversy surrounding the use of the bond intensified when it was discovered last year that the facility was merely storing items such as lubricants and condoms. Another visit to the facility this year revealed that although there were added items by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the manner of storage left much to be desired.
But Minister Volda Lawrence who took over the reins of the Public Health Ministry this year assured that the use of rental facilities are swiftly becoming a thing of the past.
“We are looking to come out of the Sussex Street Bond this year,” said Minister Lawrence. However, according to information that had reached this publication, the Ministry, under tenure of Dr. Norton, had inked a three-year contract to utilise the Sussex Street facility. It is not clear from which date the contract was inked, but Minister Lawrence was adamant that the Ministry was hoping to sever ties this year with the rental facility.
“We are hoping to take the money used there and reinvest it in the public health sector. We know we will always need space, so we will need to build more bonds and expand the ones we have,” Minister Lawrence explained.
The Minister’s remarks in this regard followed on the heels of her explanation of recent moves by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation to sever storage ties with the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation [New GPC].
According to the Minister, the administrators of the GPHC are fully aware that the Public Health Ministry is seeking to scale back on spending, especially when it comes to the rental of buildings. She divulged that over the last couple of weeks, “we have been working to clear our bonds of all expired stuff and as a result of that we have some space, and we are looking at how we can remove out of the two rented places [New GPC and Sussex Street].”
It was in light of this development, the Minister said, that “GPHC took the initiative and started moving out from the New GPC bond”.
Minister Lawrence told this publication that “We are hoping that when we would have done an extension to our Diamond Bond and rehabilitation to our Kingston Bond, we will be able to come out entirely from the rental facility…and we are working on this for this year.”
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