…Cabinet now agrees to find its own facility, currently inspecting sites – DPI
The Government of Guyana has decided to secure its own pharmaceutical storage facility and is currently inspecting suitable sites, since the arrangement to pay in excess of $12.5 million monthly to Linden Holding Inc for its Sussex Street ‘drug bond’ has been found to be ‘undesirable’.
That information was disclosed on Thursday – weeks after the specially appointed Cabinet Sub Committee had submitted its report recommending that the lease be renegotiated or terminated, since a similar facility could be found at a cheaper rate.
Director of Public Information (DPI), Imran Khan, by way of a public statement, on Thursday released the decision of the Cabinet after deliberations on the matter.
According to Khan, “Cabinet has concluded that the arrangement was undoubtedly undesirable.”
He said Cabinet also considered the options and recommendations in the report of the Cabinet Sub-Committee tasked with reviewing the decision of the Public Health Ministry to lease facilities at Sussex Street.
According to Khan, the Cabinet Council of Ministers, chaired by President David Granger, explored a range of options in its deliberations including shortening the lease period while expediting the search for another facility.
Government, through the Public Health Ministry, had inked an agreement with Linden Holdings Inc – a company owned by prominent People’s National Congress (PNC) supporter Larry Singh with no experience in the pharmaceutical industry – to pay $12.5 million annually in addition to agreeing to pay for the maintenance of the facility in addition, as well as the utility and other bills, including security.
Singh’s company has its registered office in a Middle Street property that housed the former Sidewalk Café, owned by Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes.
The matter had come to the public’s attention on August 8 during the consideration of the Financial Papers outlining advances made from the Contingency Fund.
It was discovered at the time that the Public Health Ministry had, in fact, already handed over a $25 million deposit to Singh’s Linden Holdings Inc – the same amount he paid for the Sussex Street property.
The revelations had generated widespread outrage and public condemnation after which a Special Cabinet Sub-Committee had been appointed to review the deal.
That Cabinet Sub-Committee was chaired by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and comprised Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
DPI Khan, in providing details of the Cabinet deliberations on Thursday, said, “The options of purchasing, constructing or leasing will also be explored.”
It was reiterated, however, “the conditions for the storage facility to be located within close proximity of the Georgetown port and be easily accessible remain applicable.”
According to Khan, “Though it has, out of necessity, taken some time to arrive at these decisions, Cabinet is satisfied that significant advances have been made on this matter and when the full menu of actions is completed, the best arrangement, in the interest of the people of Guyana, will be concluded.”