Concerns are growing over the slothfulness of the Government in reprimanding Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton after he misled the nation over controversial contracts for the storage of pharmaceuticals.
People’s Progressive Party General Secretary Clement Rohee, during a news conference on Monday, declared that the nation was still waiting on the Government to take the relevant actions with respect to the unfolding controversy.
He urged that the Minister expeditiously issue his apology as recommended by Government and be brought before the parliamentary Privileges Committee.
The Public Health Minister misled the National Assembly during his bid to defend a G$25 million advance from the Contingency Fund to pay Linden Holdings Inc for the storage of pharmaceuticals as a result of an “emergency”.
Dr Norton said the fees charged by NEW GPC INC of G$19.2 million a month to store the pharmaceuticals were too exorbitant, and, therefore, Government opted for a cheaper facility.
However, it was revealed that the cheaper facility was not even a bond but a house that was currently being renovated into a pharmaceutical warehouse.
In 2015, Government terminated the prequalification system for procurement of pharmaceuticals for the Public Health Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital. NEW GPC had provided free storage at its PAHO/WHO approved warehouse for the drugs it supplied on the bids it won. The Public Health Ministry then requested the NEW GPC to provide a rental quotation for its 70,000 square foot warehouse.
The NEW GPC quoted a rental of the equivalent of G$237 per square foot, yet the Public Health Ministry forked over the G$25 million deposit to Linden Holding Inc – a company whose majority shareholder is listed as Larry Singh – for rental of the building in Sussex Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, to be used as a storage bond for drugs and medical supplies for the Ministry and Georgetown Public Hospital at a rate that works out to G$1250 per square foot.
Dr Norton had stated that the Sussex Street facility, now rented by the Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital, is certified as meeting PAHO/WHO standards by relevant Ministry departments, including the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Administration Department.
But investigations later indicated that Minister Norton was being more than disingenuous in his pronouncements on the matter regarding public funds.
Dr Norton was also found to be misleading when he told the National Assembly that NEW GPC was asking for an exorbitant fee.
It was later revealed that the NEW GPC has never received any rent from the Government of Guyana for use of its state-of-the-art storage facility for over a decade.