Guyana: New GPC’s 2015 drug contract being investigated – Health Minister

An investigation has been launched into the billion-dollar drug contract that was awarded by the former regime to New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (New GPC) just three days before the General and Regional Elections in 2015.
Minister of Health Volda Lawrence confirmed this during a press conference which was held yesterday at the National Communications Network (NCN) Channel 11.
Lawrence said, “We are investigating this matter. The investigation has been going slowly because documentation cannot be accounted for, so there is presently a search for those documents.”
Additionally, the Minister said that other companies are also being investigated by the Food and Drugs Department for their importation of certain drugs. Lawrence declined to name these companies, stating that investigations are still ongoing and that some are with the police.
In the meantime, New GPC has categorically rejected the allegations that it is yet to supply the drugs for the 2015 contract.
The company, which is owned by Dr. Ranjisingh ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, made it clear in a statement over the weekend that it has supplied all drugs for its contracts with the government for 2015, including all rollover contracts.
New GPC said that delivery notes and other necessary documents are available as proof of this statement and available for inspection. These, however, were not attached as evidence or supplied in its statement to the media.
Be that as it may, the company is contending that the Auditor General’s Office, which would have conducted their audit during 2016, can attest to the veracity of this statement.
New GPC’s remarks were in wake of a report that was carried by this newspaper on Saturday last, which said that the Ministry of Public Health is still awaiting the supply of the drugs for the 2015 contract.
Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Public Health, Terrence Esseboom, told Kaieteur News that “up to now, there is nothing to show” for the $1B cheque that was received by New GPC on May 8, 2015.
The official said, “We are still waiting for drugs New GPC was paid for. Nothing was received for it. And they received contracts after that and that will be coming out.”
Esseboom reminded that the payment arrangement which allowed New GPC to uplift the entire billion-dollar cheque awarded to it by the former regime was contrary to all the country’s procurement procedures.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, had described the situation surrounding the health contracts awarded under the PPP rule to New GPC as nothing but “kick-down-the door banditry.”
It was estimated that over a period of seven years, more than US$200 million was spent on drug purchases, with the lion’s share going to New GPC.
New GPC has been a feature in the Auditor General’s report over the years, with several instances focused on multimillion-dollar deficiencies in the procurement and supply of drugs under the previous administration.

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