Norton pleads for second chance following storage bond controversy
Amidst calls for his resignation, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton today gave a public apology for misinforming the National Assembly in relation to a bond bring rented from Linden Holdings Inc. for the purpose of storing Government medication and medical supplies.
A seemingly nervous and careful Minister took full responsibility for the entire episode, however, he requested a second opportunity to be judged in his years of service, noting that he only provided information supplied to him.
“Since August 08, 2016, I have come to the realisation that the answers given to two questions relating to the New GPC Incorporated and the storage of drugs in the bond at 29, Sussex Street, Georgetown were not accurate, as these were based on information provided to me. Under the circumstances, I wish to express my sincere and profound regret to His Excellency…Speaker of the National Assembly, my parliamentary colleagues, members of the Opposition and all others who were able to observe the consideration of the estimates…So I take full responsibility fro this unfortunate episode and give my full commitment that it will not reoccur” the Minister said.
The minister added that this experience has taught him to “trust no one” noting that he would conduct due diligence and be more careful in the future.
A copy of the contract was given the members of the National Assembly, however, signatures were lacking; something that was criticised by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo in a statement to the media.
When asked, Minister Norton said Secretary in the Ministry of Public Health, Trevor Thomas signed the contract on behalf of the Government while Singh signed on behalf of his company.
The Minister will be contending to remain in the position of Co-vice chairman of the PNCR when its congress begins shortly.
The minister was also questioned about the role of his staff in the identification of the facility and whether any disciplinary action would be taken since he did admit that he in part acted on the information he was given to which he affirmed that he is taking full responsibility for the ordeal.
Dr Norton was also questioned about the possibility of a do-over of the contract to which he says there would be no scrapping of the contract. He was flanked by Director of Public Information, Imran Khan, who stated that the government may find itself facing some legal implications if it should go down that road.
He also pointed out that at the moment, the ministry would stick to the recommendations of the ministerial committee which said the contract should be re-negotiated with the long term goal being the construction of the ministry’s own facility.