Moses Nagamootoo lied about pharmaceutical storage

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…NEW GPC still providing storage for MOPH, GPHC, other Govt agencies

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo continues to come under fire over false remarks regarding the storage of pharmaceuticals with Chairman of NEW GPC, Dr Ranjisinghi Ramroop categorically denying that he ever had any conversation with the PM.

Speaking at the commissioning of a drugs’ bond in Kingston, Georgetown, last Wednesday, Nagamootoo said that he had spoken with Dr Ramroop back in 2015 and, among other things mentioned, had pleaded with him for a “piece of the bond” owned by NEW GPC to store the Government’s pharmaceutical supplies.

A section of NEW GPC’s storage facility

The Prime Minister claimed that because this was not done, they were forced to use the Sussex Street drugs’ bond, which had stirred much controversy.

However, in an interview with INews, Dr Ramroop emphatically denied that any such conversation with Nagamootoo had taken place.

In fact, he pointed out that the Prime Minister sought to convey the impression that his Government was facing immense pressure from NEW GPC to exit its warehouse, thereby forcing them to sign with Larry Singh for the Sussex Street facility. This, the NEW GPC Chairman said, is far from the truth.

“During the years when the then Ministry of Health (MOH) operated a Prequalification System for pharmaceutical suppliers, provision of storage was an integral part of the Supply Chain Management System. But even before then, NEW GPC kept goods for both MOH and Georgetown Hospital Corporation (GPHC) at multiple locations. Later, as the demand for space grew, NEW GPC commissioned a 70,000 sq ft pharmaceutical warehouse and continued to provide storage for the Government. After the May 2015 General Elections, the Prequalification System was scrapped in favour of open public tendering,” Dr Ramroop said, reminding that this was a well-worn campaign issue.

He further outlined that public tendering meant that there was no requirement for suppliers to provide long-term storage but regardless, his company continued providing storage to the State.

“Importantly, NEW GPC also made an offer for rental of space to the Government since due to its very nature, pharmaceuticals required specific conditions and there was a cost attached to maintaining same. Nothing came of that but a few months after the elections, the inventory gradually swelled to a point again where it could be said that NEW GPC restarted to provide storage to both MOPH and GPHC. Initially, it was supposed to have been temporary but then more inventory arrived and it became permanent. Needless to say, NEW GPC continues to provide storage to MOPH and GPHC to this day,” the NEW GPC Chairman explained.

Commending the Public Health Ministry for completing another one of its own storage facilities, Dr Ramroop noted that NEW GPC is also providing storage services to other State agencies. This is the second time in a matter of days that the Prime Minister’s remarks have spurred reactions from businessmen.

PM benefiting

During his remarks, Nagamootoo had referred to the controversial drugs’ bond on Sussex Street, Charlestown, as “more or less a house”.

This prompted the owner of the facility, Larry Singh, to place an ad in the local newspapers condemning the PM’s utterance. The ad titled, “Notice to Moses Nagamootoo to cease and desist from making statements that you cannot support”, refuted that the Sussex Street facility was ever a house and challenged the PM to support his remarks.

Singh further stated that Nagamootoo’s remarks are further misleading since he never visited the bond.

“…as far as I’m aware, you have never visited the bond or check the real estate what the building was before it became a drugs bond, and is in no position to contradict the Honourable Minister of Health (Volda Lawrence who had said in Parliament that the facility fits stringent specifications required to store expensive equipment such as a CT scanning machine) as to the stability of my building as a bond,” he stated.

Larry’s largesse

Singh, who has links to the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – one of the parties in the APNU faction of the coalition – went on to say, “I have been in business in excess of 40 years, the opinions you have expressed about my experience and the suitability of the bond are political rhetoric rather than fact. You are well aware about my vast business experiences and has, in fact, personally benefited from my largesse as a result of these businesses… I truly hope this is not a political stunt or a way to get votes because your words are misleading”.

The 2016 deal between the coalition Government and Singh for the rental of the Sussex Street facility was marred with controversy after the contract was sole-sourced. Furthermore, it was revealed that the deal saw Government paying a VAT-excluded monthly rental of $12.5 million.

In fact, Minister Lawrence had disclosed in the National Assembly in June 2018 that from July 2016 to March 2018, a total sum of $264.5 million was paid to Linden Holdings Incorporated, the company owned by Singh.

After years of coming under public pressure over the deal, Government eventually scrapped the contract last year.