Norton to appear before Committee of Privileges on Storage Bond issue


Following a motion tabled in the National Assembly by Opposition Member of Parliament, Dr. Frank Anthony this afternoon in relation to the controversial storage bond deal between the Government and Linden Holdings Inc., Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton has been deferred to the Privileges Committee.

Any matter which appears to affect the powers and privileges of the Assembly is referred to this Committee whose duty is to consider any such matter and to report thereon to the Assembly. The committee is chaired by the Speaker of the House.

In August of this year, during the consideration of Financial Paper No.1/2016, several questions were raised in relation to the sole-sourcing of the bond, its cost and its capability to store medical supplies given its flood prone location at 29 Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown. In response to the questions, it was found that the Minister misinformed the Assembly.

The Minister had apologized for inaccurate information provided, while Cabinet had stated that it was looking to renegotiate the three-year contract and acquire its own storage bond. However, this did not satisfy the opposition.

In the National Assembly on Monday, Dr. Anthony’s motion outlined that the Minister informed the house that the new facility is not only suitable for the storage of pharmaceutical supplies but in fact, medical supplies were already being stored in keeping with international standards, however a visit to the location subsequently found “this was an empty residential building of less than 6000 square feet which was devoid of facilities required for a fully equipped and certified pharmaceutical bond as claimed by the Minister.”

It also noted that the minister misinformed the house with regards to the cost of rental of the bond space.

Following the reading of the motion, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland told the house that he considered the motion to be in order and found a prima facie case so the matter would be referred to the Privileges Committee for attention.

Following the reading of the motion, Speaker of the National Assembly, Barton Scotland told the house that “I’ve considered the motion to be in order and I found that a prima facie case and the matter will be therefore referred to the Privileges Committee for attention”.

During a Press Conference in August, Leader of the Alliance For Change which forms part of the government, Khemraj Ramjattan was asked about moves to find out the details of who initiated the deal to which he concluded that persons may not want to speak, adding that “I don’t know what the further investigation can prove.”

The pharmaceutical bond is being rented for GYD$12.5 million monthly.

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