EYEWITNESS: Squandering… our tax dollars


There’s an old aphorism attributed to Tip O’Neil, the old plain-spoken Speaker of the US House of Congress: “A billion here, a billion there…pretty soon it begins to add up to real money!” He, of course, was being ironic about the profligacy of the then government in spending taxpayers’ money. But there’s nothing ironic with what’s being uncovered with the pharmaceutical purchases during the PNC’s latest 5-year stint at the tiller. This is CRIMINAL, that’s what.

Imagine, another ONE BILLION DOLLARS of expired pharma has been unearthed to add to the TEN BILLION DOLLARS’ worth than were already dumped!! ELEVEN BILLION DOLLARS – more than $2B WORTH OF PHARMA every year! – DUMPED INTO THE GARBAGE! And the worst thing was that, during those five years, most of the basic drugs, such as diabetes and hypertension medicines, weren’t available for the Guyanese poor who’re dependent on our public health system!!  They were routinely told they had to purchase their own drugs.

What exactly was going on? We’re living in the age of computerised record-keeping. Purchasing drugs, storing them, retrieving and recording them isn’t rocket science. Every modern supermarket has a system for entering the purchases of the thousands of different items they stock. When some are sold, and scanned for billing at the checkout counter, the computer automatically deducts those from the inventory, and a new balance is created. Those balances are scrutinised by supervisors, and specific goods are reordered. Those same supervisors get reports on how much of all items is sold per month or week, to get an idea of what’s the recurrent usage.

Now, your Eyewitness expects that in each of the locations where drugs are stored or used – warehouses, hospitals, clinics, etc – these computerised inventory systems are present. And if they aren’t, then things are more screwed up than anyone might suppose! So, exactly where did the breakdown occur in the last five years? We know there will always be a certain amount of drugs that’ll expire, since no computer, supervisor or epidemiologist can predict to the “T” who’ll get sick to need what particular medicine. But Jeez! Eleven billion dollars? Nah!

Your Eyewitness believes that, like with fishes, the rot and the stench began right at the top. Don’t we all remember that lady who “only had PNC friends” and believed that “only PNC people should get wuk in her Health Ministry”? Well, in her first couple of months on the job, she rushed through that sole-sourced $600M pharma contract to a Trini firm! From what we are now discovering, this must’ve then become the custom and practice! A lucrative practice!

The Auditor General has his work cut out for him!

…lives to COVID-19

Your Eyewitness had spoken about the ray of hope in this Stygian COVID-19 darkness enveloping us all after Biden proposed that the patents on the vaccines be temporarily waived. Vaccine manufacturers across the world could then churn out the life-saving products. Basically, it’s the poorer countries who’re at the short end of the stick. Of the 700 million doses administered to date, just 2% were in the poor countries.

Well, the WHO and 100 nations supporting its call pretty much fell over themselves in praising Biden – as did the EU, which also went along. But, in these matters, there’s always a party pooper, isn’t there? And this time it’s Germany. The Germans are insisting that it’s the monetary rewards that push innovation – in this case with vaccines – and we can’t remove that incentive.

Well, two things we should note: firstly, we’re only talking about a TEMPORARY waiver – maybe three years max. And secondly, much of the basic research behind new techniques were government funded.

But money still makes the world go ‘round, not people.

…newspaper space

What’s with Granger and his $2.5billion libel lawsuit? Success in libel suits depends on whether the Court holds the statements made as false.

The Court didn’t throw out his petitions and rule the PPP won the elections?