Senior representatives of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) led by its President, Deodat Indar met with the Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence recently to discuss matters of concern to the business community.
The GCCI wasted no time in outlining to the Minster areas of contentions faced by the business community that fall under the purview of the health Ministry.
See an abridged version of the full release below:
Food and Drug importation issues
Vice President, Timothy Tucker raised issues relating to the operations of the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GAF&D). He lamented that following a previous meeting between the GCCI and the Director of Food and Drug, Mr. Marlan Cole, some issues were left unresolved concerning complaints made by members of the GCCI on the uneven dispensation of the powers of the office of the Director of Food and Drug. Member Companies complained that they felt that they are targeted.
The Minister told the GCCI that the, ‘buck stops with me,’ meaning that she is responsible for the Food and Drug department and that matters emanating from the department have her attention.
Mr. Tucker raised the issue of revision of the regulations for the importation of goods, The Minister agreed for the GCCI to review the Food and Drugs Act and to make recommendations along with other stakeholders.
The Minister also agreed that her Ministry will pursue the GCCI’s recommendation on matters that would have a negative impact on the business community.
Public Procurement Practices
The GCCI raised concerns with the procurement practices for healthcare supplies.
The President of the GCCI said that there are complaints received by member companies that public procurement tendering for supplies is not being done as frequent as they should and asked of pre-qualification of suppliers.
The Minister pointed out that the pre-qualification process will not be used anymore and the Ministry had undertaken a process of re-designing the bidding process and everyone who is bidding for a contract will have to go through the same process and will be given a fair chance.
However, she did note that no system is perfect and the Ministry of Health was going to review the process every six (6) months to identify areas that can be improved.
Representative of the GPHC Board
Mr. Indar requested that a member of the GCCI be afforded the opportunity to be a member of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Board, he said that many state Boards have a private sector representative, he asked the Minister to consider his request.
Tobacco Control Bill
The President of the GCCI, raised the issue of the impending Tobacco Control Bill, he told the Minister the bill appears oversized. The Minister said that the bill will be tabled in Parliament on 15 June 2017.
She suggested that the GCCI submit their comments in writing to her Office.
The meeting concluded with the Minister agreeing to continue quarterly constructive collaborations with the GCCI – the leading private sector body in the country.
For its part, the GCCI welcomed the opportunity to have a frank, respectful and candid dialogue about its concerns with the Ministry of Public Health and both parties agreed to review the situation in July 2017.