7 years later: Govt trying to recoup millions in undelivered health supplies paid for by APNU

As much as $306 million worth of undelivered health supplies were paid for between 2015 and 2017, however, millions of dollars in goods were not delivered and the Health Ministry is still trying to conclude some of these transactions and recoup any losses.
During Monday’s sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the 2019 Auditor General report was examined. Specifically, PAC member and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira raised questions over the Ministry of Health paying upfront for $306.2 Million in goods from multiple companies that were not delivered between 2015 and 2017.
“Can we go to (paragraph) 920, where there is $306 million of goods was not delivered and according to the briefing notes, was not delivered at the time the briefing notes was done. So, of the $306 Million, $128.7 Million now remain undelivered.”
“This is our notes of 2024. Could the Ministry of Health say, were additional supplies delivered? Or did they get back the money they advanced to the company, to put into the consolidated fund?” Teixeira also said.

Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Malcolm Watkins

In response, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Malcolm Watkins, gave updates on some of the companies that were flagged. For instance, Caribbean Medical Supplies had actually delivered an item to the government that was not accepted. Instead, the company was required to change the delivery.
“As of the updated response, I can start with the first company. We have $128 Million and of that, $67 Million was a contract that was done in 2015, where the item that was ordered, was not accepted by the lab.”
“And therefore, they were required to have a change in the delivery or specifications. That contract remained hanging for a while. And we are now taking steps to change this and reconcile the contract,” Watkins said.
According to the permanent secretary, there are multiple companies who still have these outstanding supplies for the ministry, that they are trying to address. According to Watkins, they are working on reconciling yet another contract, this time with Supply Chain Management Systems. And in the very 2019 report, the Auditor General had urged them to continue to pursue either the delivery of the goods, or the recovery of the monies paid.
“Its multiple companies. I think there are different arrangements. The first one, for $67 Million, was paid in advance. The total contract sum was $70.4 Million. And that would have probably been paid on a bank guarantee,” Watkins explained.
“The supply chain management system was an agency that was set up through the US government to work with us on ARV management. We paid them… there’s a balance there… this became a cold case. We’re still trying to make efforts to see how we can reconcile this sum. I’m not sure if SCMS is still functioning as a sub agency of the US government.” (G3)