Setting the record straight

Dear Editor,
During the period of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, it was subjected to vile and consistent attacks about corruption. Most of the allegations were downright lies; some were half-truths (these are often worse than lies) and almost always they were distorted.
The PPP/C has answered these accusations over and over again. Yet the charges of misconduct and corruption persist to this day. It is clear that the PPP/C haters have seen that this is potent and even now after more than three years of the Party being out of office, the wicked lies are continuing.
An editorial in sections of the media on Monday, August 6, 2018, is a good example of how the news continues to be twisted. They are indulging in this type of journalism to protect the really corrupt People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regime, while at the same time trying to hold on to some credibility.
In the editorial, the PNC-led APNU regime’s obviously corrupt dealings were mentioned very mildly. The Leader of the Opposition was even quoted on a few of the corrupt deals. Clearly, this was a fig leaf to pretend to be fair and balanced
However, it was once more placing blame on the PPP/C and slandering its Administration.
About sole sourcing of medicine, it stated that “….it was practised frequently by the PPP Government”. That is the first lie. The second lie is put in the following way: “…. While in Opposition, the APNU/AFC criticised the PPP… for the sole sourcing of drug contracts to the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation…whose owner is a friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo….” It is just slander to repeat the lie that NEW GPC got contracts on a sole-sourcing basis.
For the reader to understand this, it is necessary to go into a bit of a background.
On assuming office, the PPP/C sought the assistance of the international community to design a system of procurement of medicines. The whole idea was to prevent shortages of pharmaceuticals and minimise the need for emergency purchases.
The system that the PPP/C Administration developed was done with the technical assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It was best described as pre-qualification tendering.
That model was developed by the WHO and the World Bank based on international best practices and applied here to our specific circumstances.
The guidelines which the PPP/C Administration followed in allocating contracts and procuring drugs were: 1) the financial capacity to deliver on the contracts; 2) acceptable storage to ensure that there were enough supplies in the country and stored at the correct temperature; 3) meet the Guyana Food and Drug Department regulations; 4) the entity was legally authorised to operate as a business; 5) there was a points system that all bidders must meet.
Moreover, to ensure quality, all medicines had to be procured from WHO prequalified manufacturers. Therefore, suppliers had to list the companies they were procuring drugs from.
Those companies/suppliers that met those criteria were then pre-qualified. When procuring, the Ministry sent orders to those companies inviting them to bid.
It is clear that the PPP/C did not sole source. It was all based on sound principles.
By extension, NEW GPC was also not given any contract on a sole-source basis. The NEW GPC supplied medicines to the health sector based on the pre-qualification model that the WHO recommended for global use in the national supply chain system. The NEW GPC, like all others, had to bid in an open tender to become pre-qualified.
In the case of an emergency, it was usually for one or two drugs and the amount was limited. This means that not a lot of money was spent on emergency purchases. It was never tens of millions of dollars.
Even in this case, the companies that were pre-qualified were asked to bid. The time, of course, was shorter.
Those are the facts.
For a section of the media to perpetuate this disinformation about the PPP sole-sourcing could only be for political reasons.
I say this because the system set up by the PPP/C Administration was tested in our courts.
The International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), owned by Mr Lloyd Singh, a known financier of the APNU/AFC, took a case to court, claiming discrimination in awarding of contracts.
The company had among the best legal representation, Mr Rex McKay’s Chambers. The Judge was Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang.
The PPP/C Government’s case was argued by the then Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
The finding and ruling of the Judge was that the charges were baseless. The system was of international standard and no discrimination took place.
Yet, a section of the media, including Kaieteur News, persists in the fallacy. Why?
Having succeeded in painting a false picture of the PPP/C Administration when in office, they now continue to do the same to protect their corrupt friends high in government. This suggests that some of them may also be benefitting from this massive APNU/AFC corruption.
If not, they must be very frightened of this PNC-led regime and try to soften any criticism of them.
Without doubt, the PPP/C would welcome a debate on corruption. If the regime feels that it is clean, then it, or its agents in the media, should take up the challenge
In the meantime, the Government’s and PNC-sympathetic media should stop, in the words of US President Donald Trump, spreading fake news. It is an abuse of free speech.

Donald Ramotar
Former President