Govt misled Nat’l Assembly on Pharma ware”house” rental
…pays owner 3 times NEW GPC’s charge
Government has opted to pay firearms dealer Larry Singh more than three times the amount asked by NEW GPC for use of its 70,000 square foot drug storage bond to instead rent a facility that is less than 10,000 square feet, which is still to be completed and fails to meet minimum standards for pharmaceutical storage.
The Guyana Government in 2015 terminated its prequalification agreement with the NEW GPC and forked over a $25 million deposit to Linden Holding Inc – a company whose majority shareholder is listed as Larry Singh – for rental of a building in Sussex Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, to be used as a storage bond for drugs and medical supplies for the Public Health Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton, in defence of the course of action taken by Government, has suggested that the rental fee asked by NEW GPC was exorbitant and that the new facility was required on an emergency basis.
He said too that the facility now rented by the Public Health Ministry and GPHC is in fact certified as meeting PAHO/WHO standards by relevant Ministry departments, including the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Administration Department.
Investigations by Guyana Times, however, indicate that Minister Norton was being less than truthful in his pronouncements on the matter regarding public funds.
Dr Norton was also found to be dishonest when he told the National Assembly that NEW GPC was asking an exorbitant fee.
This publication has learnt that NEW GPC has never received any rent from the Government of Guyana for use of its state-of-the-art storage facility for over a decade, but after the request for rental of the facility was made by the Health Ministry and Georgetown Public Hospital, an invoice was computed at $275 per square foot. The Government later decided to pay Linden Holding Inc more than $1000 per square foot for the Sussex Street property.
Revelations by Dr Norton have since shown that in addition to a $25 million deposit, Government has begun paying Linden Holding Inc, $12.5 million monthly, for a facility which is conservatively estimated to be around less than 10,000 square feet.
The building in Sussex Street – currently being refurbished – up until recently had been abandoned but was previously used as a residence.
No drugs delivered yet
The disparity in prices being paid to Singh and Linden Holding Inc is in addition to the fact that contrary to Dr Norton’s pronouncements the Sussex Street bond was never inspected by the Food and Drug Department, as is required under the laws of Guyana, and does not meet any of the international specifications required for storage of drugs and medical supplies.
Guyana Times visited the Sussex Street building, which sits between two residential homes, in breach of international standards for the location of such facilities given its proximity to external risks.
Dr Norton told the National Assembly that Government has begun storing drugs and medical supplies with Linden Holdings Inc – since rental payments would have commenced in March.
But this again has since been proven unfounded since the facility is still being prepared to be used as a storage facility.
Guyana Times was told there have been no deliveries made to the location and in fact, rehabilitation of the once dilapidated building only commenced recently.
Three persons were observed on site Monday laying wires in addition to a single security guard who informed a journalist from this publication that Larry Singh had instructed that no person be allowed inside to photograph the facility.
Checks at Linden Holding’s Middle Street office in the building which housed Sidewalk Café and is owned by Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes – also proved futile since Guyana Times was informed that no comments would be made to the media based on the instructions of Singh.
Linden Holding Inc
Guyana Times has learnt that Linden Holding Inc in March this year filed a Notice of Change of address listing 176 Middle Street, Cummingsburg as its registered office.
This coincidentally is the first month Linden Holding Inc began receiving payments in the form of a $25 million deposit.
Linden Holding Inc was in fact registered as a company in 2009 by Lawrence Singh as the sole director and a chauffeur, Julian George, of La Grange, West Bank Demerara (WBD) was named the Company Secretary.
Lawrence listed 7041NW 41 St, Miami, Florida, 33166, USA as his address in addition to 4531 Mandela Avenue, Georgetown, Guyana.
George subsequently ceased being the Company Secretary and was replaced by Mohamed Samad of 185 Section C Enterprise, East Coast Demerara.
The company had also by way of an internal resolution changed its business address to 198 Camp Street, Georgetown. Singh’s Mandela Avenue address was the originally registered address for the business.
One year after Lawrence Singh incorporated the Company, he was also named the Company Secretary.
There was another change of Directors of the company in 2012 when Larry Singh –who is now the majority shareholder – came on board.
He listed the same Miami address in addition to 198 Camp Street. Other Directors that came on board at the time included Linda Singh and Lolita Samuels and both have also listed the Miami and Camp Streets addresses.
Businesswoman Theresa Foster of the same 198 Camp Street address subsequently became a Director in addition to Marine Surveyor Joseph Lewis.
Currently the Directors of the company are Lawrence Singh, Joseph Lewis, Larry N Singh, Linda Singh and Lolita Samuels.
Larry Singh owns 34 per cent of the shares, while Linda Singh and Lolita Samuels each own 33 per cent respectively.