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Nandlall wants SOCU probe into “misuse” of $605M State funds

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Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall is calling on the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to launch an investigation into what he considers the misuse of State funds totalling some $605M by the government, in the controversial drug procurement from Ansa McAl.

Nandlall, who is also subject to a SOCU probe, made the call in a press statement today (Monday, June 26, 2017) where he called out the Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence for misleading the nation on the matter.

The Opposition Parliamentarian noted that the Minister, in Monday’s edition of the Guyana Chronicle, denied granting approval for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) to procure the drugs from Ansa McAl.

According to Nandlall, “If what the Chronicle published is the truth, then the Minister deliberately and calculatedly misled the Public Procurement Commission (PPC)… At a minimum, the statements attributed to her starkly contradict an earlier Public Statement issued by her own Ministry.”

Indeed, Lawrence had previously told the nation that she ordered the fast-tracking of the drug procurement by the GPHC in light of the severe drug shortage at the institution.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) on the 11th March 2017, the Ministry detailed the situation of drug shortage at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (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 the Guyana Chronicle article, however, the Minister said she only advised the GPHC to utilise the necessary system they assured her was available to remedy the drug shortage crisis in the shortest possible time.

The State newspaper also reported that the Minister denied signing documents to be dispatched to the NPTAB, seeking approval for the purchase of drugs from Ansa McAl even though Lawrence’s previous press statement concurred that she did.

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