APNU+AFC gov’t rented drugs bond for $337.9M in two years; Police called in
The Auditor General Deodat Sharma has recommended that the Police be called in to investigate and charge those who were responsible for the rental of a bond to store pharmaceutical drugs under the last government; $337.5 million was paid to rent the bond over a two-year period and $137.5 million is due on the contract for which there is no evidence that it was properly terminated.
In a special investigation, the Auditor General found that proper procedures were not adhered to with respect to awarding of the contract to Linden Holding Inc., owned by Lawrence Singh, for the leasing of warehouse facility at lot 29 Sussex Street Albouystown to serve as offsite medical storage facility for the then Ministry of Public Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
“Notably, tender board procedures were not followed,” the Auditor General said in the report seen by the News Room.
The report has been forwarded by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall to the Commissioner of Police for him to do a criminal investigation and lay charges where necessary.
The Auditor General noted in the report that then Minister Dr George Norton explained that the reason why no procurement process was followed was that the facility was required on an emergency basis.
However, the investigation found that sum of $25M was paid for the months of July and August 2016 but the bond was not used during those months.
The Ministry’s software shows that the Ministry started to utilise the Sussex Street bond from 1 September 2016 and the last set of drugs and supplies were removed from the bond on 24 October 2018, whilst GPHC commenced storage of Pharmaceuticals from the period May 2017 and ceased on 31 July 2018.
The status of the contract is unknown at this time since a “Notice to Quit” was sent to the landlord without the Ministry’s letterhead and without a signature.
The investigation found no evidence that the contract had been terminated.
The Agreement of Tenancy was signed on July 20, 2016 by former Permanent Secretary Trevor Thomas.
However, it was explained by the current Permanent Secretary that besides the Agreement of Tenancy, there are no other records in relation to the rental of the bond by the former Ministry of Public Health.
As a result of his findings, the Auditor General recommended that the Ministry of Health engages the Ministry of Legal Affairs “with intentions of bringing closure to this matter and if necessary appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against any culpable officer(s).”
Further, he recommended that the “Guyana Police Force be called in to conduct an in-depth investigation and institute charges where necessary.”