ANSA McAL sole sourcing: President says ‘disciplinary actions if’ persons at fault

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Head of State David Granger has stated that disciplinary actions will be taken against anyone found to be at fault as it relates to the recent sole scouring of pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), for which a contract to the tune of $605 million has been awarded to Trinidadian firm ANSA McAL.

Since the awarding of the contract, local pharmaceutical companies have come forward, pointing to the fact that they can deliver the required drugs for half the cost Government is set to pay the foreign company.

To this end, when asked to address the contentions of local manufacturers, the President posited that this matter can be resolved at the levels of the Finance and Public Health Ministries, as well as the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

In the same breath, however, the Head of State noted that he is not aware of any laws being broken or any acts of criminality committed in the award of the contract to ANSA McAL.

“If there is some procedural irregularity that can be rectified and if it is found that somebody is at fault, well there can be disciplinary actions,” he told reporters on the televised programme – The Public Interest, which aired on Friday.

Nevertheless, President Granger insisted that while it is not the policy of his Government to procure drugs through sole scouring, there was a crisis in which drugs that were supposed to be supplied since last year were delayed for whatever reason and actions had to be taken to remedy the situation.

President Granger speaking at a recently held cultural event

“My understanding of the present situation (is that) a crisis arose at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation… and the Public Hospital Corporation invited the persons who were shortlisted to make presentations with regards to providing the drugs which were in short supply. So we have not changed, I have not changed my position we’ve done a lot to ensure that the (Public) Procurement Commission was established so we could bring this whole practice of sole scouring to an end,” the Head of State asserted.

Asked how the matter could be rectified going forward, the President opined that with proper tendering for the supply of pharmaceuticals, this could be achieved.

Moreover, he expressed his satisfaction with the way pharmaceuticals are procured, stored and distributed to the various medical institutions around the country, especially following the change made at the helm of the Public Health Ministry earlier this year.GPHC Drug Purchase - Ansa Mc Al -2

Management of the Georgetown Public Hospital has been accused of deliberating creating an emergency situation in order to sole source drugs from its preferred supplier.

It has cancelled and delayed four out of its five public tenders within the last four months, thereby creating a situation wherein there was a massive shortage of pharmaceuticals.

In a letter dated February 28, 2017, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Georgetown Hospital, Allan Johnson, thanked Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence for authorising the procurement of medical supplies from ANSA McAL to the tune of $605,962,200, even though local firms could have supplied the same quantity and quality of drugs at better prices. Both Johnson and the Minister have refused to speak to the media on the issue.

Nevertheless, questions are now being raised regarding why local firms which could have supplied the pharmaceuticals at cheaper prices had been sidelined.

It raises the issue of motive and possible corruption, which is reminiscent of the earlier decision to rent a non-existent pharma warehouse.

ANSA McAL has since claimed it had submitted a bid for the $605 million contract; but according to information received, on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, six companies, including ANSA McAL, had each submitted a bid in response to the Georgetown Public Hospital’s public tender for pharmaceuticals.

Moreover, on the same day, Georgetown Public Hospital also requested quotations, not bids, for emergency supplies based on availability, after it had belatedly cancelled yet another tender for emergency supplies. There was therefore no bidding process for the emergency supplies, as is being alleged.

Given the magnitude of this transaction with ANSA McAL, there is a strong possibility that it would impact the public tender/quantities which are still under consideration, and that must be of concern to the five other bidders.

To this end, local manufacturer, NEW GPC INC, in a statement on Wednesday pointed out that it could have supplied many of the items instantaneously, since there is usually inventory on hand. In a worst-case scenario, the company said, the delay would have been less than a few days to get the products manufactured right here in Guyana.

Additionally, NEW GPC has said that by utilising its established and reliable supply chain, it could have supplied even the items to be imported quicker; for instance, a Clindamycin injection, for which ANSA McAL’s price was 12 times that of the NEW GPC’s.

For Diclofenac tablets, the NEW GPC has said, ANSA McAL’s price was 15 times its price; and for Clotrimazole cream, which is made locally, ANSA McAL’s price was as much as 23 times the New GPC’s price.

From merely 16 of the 118 items surveyed, the Georgetown Hospital would have saved over G$100 million of taxpayers’ money had it purchased those items from the local manufacturer. (Guyana Times)

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