“Offends public, taxpayers” – Ramkarran

Govt’s .5M ware “house” deal

… says President not fully briefed

The deal, conceived and entered into by the Government with Linden Holding Inc, smells. It is offensive to commonsense and to the Guyanese public and taxpayer and violates the Government’s promises of transparency and an end to sole sourcing.

Former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran
Former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran

Seasoned politician and former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, delivered this scathing observation as he weighed in on the brouhaha that has erupted over the past week when it was discovered that Government not only fronted $25 million to one of its financial supporters but also opted to pay $12.5 million monthly for a 10,000 square foot sub-standard facility to store the nation’s drugs and medical supplies.

Ramkarran, writing in his conversationtree.org outlet has since called on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, to explain why the Guyanese people must lose in excess of $9 million a month on “this sordid deal.”

Opposition members questioning Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton Monday last, on an item seeking approval for $31 million, it was revealed that the sum was intended as expenses for renting a bond for the storage of pharmaceuticals.

The Minister, according to Ramkarran, explained that rent of $19.2 million per month was being paid to New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (NEW GPC INC) and that the Government wanted a cheaper facility in a hurry to avoid paying that ‘exorbitant’ sum. Consequently, there was ‘sole sourcing’ and the contract was given to Linden Holding Inc.

The size of the premises in Albouystown is 10,000 square feet and the rent was $12 million per month.

Ramkarran has since reported that it also turns out that, contrary to what the Minister said, NEW GPC had been storing Government owned pharmaceuticals free of charge and had been doing so since it was the Government’s main supplier of drugs under sole sourcing arrangements.

He accurately noted that since sole sourcing of pharmaceuticals came to an end, NEW GPC put forward a proposal for monthly rental from March for its 70,000 square foot facility but Government decided to sole source another facility – Linden Holding Inc, being the beneficiary.

That company, owned by Larry Singh – a financial supporter of the Administration in its campaign – bought the property in which to store the pharmaceuticals in March and is receiving rent, even though the facility is not yet in operation because it is still under preparation.

According to Ramkarran, “This deal, conceived and entered into by the Government, smells… It is offensive to commonsense and to the Guyanese public and taxpayer and violates the Government’s promises of transparency and an end to sole sourcing.”

Ramkarran posits that the ‘arrangement’ fits squarely in the governance methods against which the population revolted in elections in 2011 and 2015 and about which the then Opposition complained bitterly and vowed to end.

“How can rent of $12 million for 10,000 square feet be a saving on rent of $16 million for 70,000 square feet,” asks Ramkarran.

He pointed out that based on his calculations, “$16 million divided by 70,000 square feet gives $228 a square foot and $12 million divided by 10,000 square feet gives $1200 a square foot.”

As such, he points out that “this ‘deal’ therefore requires the taxpayer to fork out $1200 a square foot when other premises are available at $228 a square foot… How can this be right?”

The former Speaker noted too that sensing all of these factors the Cabinet, which had previously approved the contract, acted swiftly and appointed itself, through a sub-committee, to examine the contract and report, equally swiftly.

According to Ramkarran, no sooner had the sub-committee been appointed, it began to make excuses and set up defences.

Granger clearly not fully briefed

Ramkarran observed too in his writings that President David Granger also weighed in on the issue in a defensive mode, “but the President demonstrated that he was clearly not fully briefed on the matter.”

Granger in defence of the deal entered into by his Administration said the contract was awarded out of necessity, citing the “punitive nature in which NEW GPC increased its fees as a result of the termination of single sourcing.” The President explained “What happened is that the new Administration decided to bring an end to single sourcing.”