Government continues to pour millions of taxpayer dollars into the rental of the controversial Sussex Street, Albouystown drug bond to store a CT-scanner which was donated by RAD-AID International.
Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, disclosed to Kaieteur News that the storage of the scanner is the only reason that Government continues to utilize the bond.
According to Lawrence, the scanner was earmarked for Bartica Hospital which does not have the required place to store the machine.
“Regional officials are in the process of building the required storage place. The contractor had a problem with the lead needed for the CT-scan room so as soon as that is finished the people who donated (the scanner) will come to take it to Bartica,” the Minister stated.
She explained that the Ministry has been advised that the scanner has to be stored at a certain temperature. The Minister could not provide a timeline as to when the machine would be moved to Bartica.
Her Ministry is awaiting the conclusion of work by the Minister of Communities and officials of Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), she said.
“We don’t have any place else to put this machine. That’s why it is there. We want the CT scan because it is going to help the hospital tremendously,” the Minister disclosed.
On Monday, Lawrence said that the Ministry of Public Health paid $264.5M for the rental of the building to Linden Holding Inc. between July 2016 and March 2018. That is $12.1M per month. According to Lawrence, the scanner is valued at about US$90,000 ($1.8M).
The issue of the bond surfaced in 2016 when it was learnt that the bond had been rented under very lucrative terms to businessman, Larry Singh, during the tenure of former Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton.
Dr. Norton defended the Ministry’s use of the facility.
Apart from the scanner, Lawrence indicated that the bond is also being used to store stationary supplies from the now demolished CSU bond in Kingston.
The controversy surrounding the use of the bond intensified when it was discovered late 2016 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.
There are reports that suggest that a three-year contract has been signed for use of the facility, but Minister Lawrence had disclosed that the Ministry had planned to end the rental of the bond by December 2017.
However, she said that her Ministry had served a Notice of Quit dated October 2016 by then Permanent Secretary, Trevor Thomas. A reminder dated October 3, 2017 was sent by Permanent Secretary Colette Adams who had taken over from Thomas.
Lawrence explained that the Government was hoping to take the money used for the rental of the bond and reinvest it in the public health sector. The Minister had disclosed plans to build more bonds and expand the ones the Ministry has.
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