Health Minister to apologise for misleading statements on rental of storage bonds
One day after the government announced the establishment of a Ministerial Committee to look into the issues surrounding matters raised in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly relating to storage of government medicine and medical supplies; it has put forward several recommendations.
The committee recommended that monies owed to the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Incorporated (GPC) be paid with immediate effect while Minister of Health is being asked to offer a public apology over statements that he made in the National Assembly about the payment for the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation and about the new storage bond already being in operation.
Minister Trotman said, “based on the explanation of the Health Minister we have recommended that he offers a public apology.”
In relation to the payment of monies owed to the New GPC, he said it was discovered that a cheque was prepared for the company but never handed over.
On Monday evening, the National Assembly approved an additional $63.541 M for the rental of buildings for the Ministry of Public Health. This money was approved during the consideration of Financial Paper No.1/2016, which sought to bring additional funding for government agencies from the Contingency Fund.
The Minister said the Government paid the corporation $19.2M per month for rental of the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Incorporated (GPC) 70,000 sqft warehouse for storage of pharmaceuticals for the Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).This was disputed by the New GPC which noted that “the New GPC has been storing pharmaceuticals at its warehouse FREE OF CHARGE to the Government for more than a decade up to March 1st2016.”
The Health Minister, the money was expended on the provision of rental to the New for the storage of medications for the period March-June 2016, and payments to Linden Holding Company for the same purpose, along with a security deposit of $25 M.
The building, which is located at 29 Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown and bought by Lawrence “Larry” Singh in March 2016 for GYD$25 million is being rented by the government to store pharmaceutical supplies for the public health sector.
Questions were raised in relation to sole-sourcing of the bond to which government stated that the reason for no public notice inviting expressions of interest for the rental of a building was because “the mood of Cabinet” in July 2016 was the need to find space urgently since the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (NGPC) had submitted invoices totaling US$137,000 for rental of its bond.
Questions were also raised in relation to the condition of the bond and its capability to store medical supplies given its flood-prone location.
Today Minister Trotman said, following a visit to the facility, and he was satisfied that it is capable of being a place to store drugs which have met the World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements.
Additionally, it was announced that the agreement between the Public Health Ministry and Singh would be reviewed by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams with a view to amending the rental.
Going forward, the Minister said a recommendation is being made for the government to eventually have its own storage facility and the government plans to eventually build its own bond in various regions.