Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, wants the police to launch an investigation into the controversial purchase of over $600M in drugs and other related supplies for the country’s hospitals and health centres.
Nandlall yesterday made it clear that the Health Minister contradicted herself on the reasons for the purchases when she appeared before the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) recently.
Referring to a headline in the Guyana Chronicle yesterday, Nandlall, an Opposition parliamentarian disagreed with the what the story contended- “FED A BUNCH OF LIES – Min. Lawrence says she never approved purchase of emergency drugs.”
The story reportedly said that Lawrence has denied approving the purchase of some $605M worth of emergency drugs by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) when she appeared before the Public Procurement Commission.
Minister Lawrence appeared before the commission on Friday as an investigation continues into the controversial procurement of over $605M in critical drugs in short supply in March 2017 for GPHC.
According to Nandlall, the Minister is reported to have informed the PPC that it was former Chief Executive Officer, Alan Johnson, who, apparently, acting without the Ministry’s authorization, engineered the controversial purchase.
“In short, Minister Lawrence threw Johnson under the proverbial bus. If what the Chronicle published is the truth, then the Minister deliberately and calculatedly misled the PPC, last Friday.”
The statements by the minister to PPC would contradict an earlier one issued by Lawrence’s own ministry.
Nandlall noted that in the public statement issued by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) on March 11th 2017, the Ministry detailed the situation of a drug shortage at the GPHC and said of Minister Lawrence:
“To this end, she sought to fast track the procurement of these pharmaceuticals to minimise the negative effects on patients due to the shortage of some critical drugs. This influenced the decision to seek the greenlight from the
National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for ANSA McAL to supply drugs and pharmaceuticals to the tune of some G$605M.”
According to Nandlall, this statement was prominently carried and extensively quoted in a newspaper article.
“Significantly, the aforementioned MOPH statement has disappeared from the Ministry’s website; neither can it be found on the Department of Public Information’s website. I refuse to believe that this is accidental or coincidental. It is by design,” Nandlall contended.
“In the circumstances, I call on the Commissioner of Police and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to immediately launch an investigation into this matter. After all, this transaction involves the misuse or unlawful use of $605M of public monies. They are multiple breaches of, inter alia, the Procurement Act, the Public Corporation Act and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.”
The purchase had sparked a quarrel after it was learnt the Trinidadian-owned Ansa McAl received the bulk of it. The manner in which the award of the contracts was made – heavily defended by the administration – had even reached the floors of the National Assembly.
Drugs purchases for the state’s hospital and health centres have over the years been a sore point.
Under the previous administration, billions of dollars were being spent annually, but with certain suppliers close to the then government being preferred.
In some cases, state auditors found that one entity, New GPC, and its sister company, received almost 80 percent of the value of the contracts.
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