Transparent account of taxpayers’ money being urged

5M ANSA McAL “emergency” contract

In the wake of a sole sourced, supposedly “emergency” contract for $605 million of pharmaceuticals authorised by Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, on information provided by the CEO of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, stakeholders are demanding an explanation for the fiasco that has placed taxpayers’ dollars at stake.
Preceding the “emergency drug procurement” by the Georgetown Hospital this year, several tenders were cancelled for several reasons. The company that was handed the sole sourced $605 million contract, ANSA McAL, was one of those that were rendered disqualified during one of the cancelled tenders by the Georgetown Public Hospital in 2016. This was disclosed by a source close to the ongoing investigation into a number of the drug procurement scandals under the Public Health Ministry.
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence in her explanation to the nation for her extraordinary intervention said the tenders were cancelled because some suppliers declared their inability to supply the drugs and because of some evidently collusion by some the officials of the Georgetown Hospital leaking information on bids to selected suppliers. On the specific “emergency contract”, Minister Lawrence explained she was not fully apprised of all the pertinent facts by the CEO of the Hospital.
In an attempt to follow the trail of the antecedent events that led to the extraordinary allocation to ANSA McAL, the chronological sequence was compiled.
Guyana Times was told that the Georgetown Hospital advertised for Procurement of Medical Supplies on October 2, 2016, with a tender deadline of November 1, 2016. Bids duly submitted on November 1, 2016 but this tender was cancelled.
According to the source, the Georgetown Hospital then advertised for procurement of pharmaceuticals on November 5, 2016. The tender deadline was originally scheduled on November 22, 2016, but this was postponed to December 13, 2016. Bids were eventually submitted on December 13. The entire tender was cancelled.
Notably, ANSA McAL, the source pointed out, would have been disqualified because at the opening, it was announced that they had bid security issues.
This publication was told by a well-placed source that it was subsequent to this that the Georgetown Hospital arranged for a selective tender for ‘emergency pharmaceuticals’ on February 2, 2017. The tender was cancelled verbally on February 12 and in writing on February 14.
Additionally, the Georgetown Hospital arranged for selective tender for procurement of medical supplies on February 3, 2017. According to the source, the tender deadline was postponed to February 14, 2017. Bids were submitted on February 14 but no awards or pronouncements were issued as yet.
This is therefore presumably still under evaluation, more than a month later.
In light of the cancelled tenders and the worsened drug crisis at the Georgetown Public Hospital, the Minister intervened and ordered that shortlisted – not pre-qualified – contractors be contacted and asked to supply the pharmaceuticals in the shortest time possible.
She explained that had the normal procurement process route been taken, drugs would have arrived until several months after.
On February 12, a request was made for items in stock in the country relative to the list of pharmaceutical and medical supplies (392 items) contained in the cancelled emergency tenders above.
According to a source, one of the shortlisted contractors, NEW GPC submitted three quotes (not bids) for a total of 194 items and was subsequently asked to supply a few items to the valued $20.8 million.
When contacted on the issue Tuesday this publication was told that the company has since completely fulfilled that order.
NEW GPC also pointed out to this publication that it has already made public its position on the matter and wishes not to make any futher comments.
It is unclear what process was used to award ANSA McAL a $605 million contract to supply drugs.
When asked, the Minister claimed ignorance. Lawrence claimed unawareness of the procurement process embarked upon after her intervention; she was also unable to pinpoint if and how the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board was involved and what method was used to determine that ANSA McAL was best suited for the $605 million contract.
Minister Lawrence had disclosed in a statement to the media that ANSA McAL donated four refrigerators to the Georgetown Hospital.
In a live press conference on Monday, the Minister saved herself from the scandal, claiming that she was surprised to see that ANSA McAL was awarded a $605 million contract.
The Minister said she had written the Chairman of the Georgetown Hospital Board, ordering an investigation into the entire situation.
Management of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation has been accused of deliberating creating an emergency situation in order to sole source drugs from its preferred supplier. Within the last four months, it has cancelled or delayed four of its five public tenders, thereby creating a situation wherein there was a massive shortage of pharmaceuticals.
In a letter dated February 28, 2017, the Hospital’s CEO, Allan Johnson, thanked the Public Health Minister for authorising the procurement of medical supplies from ANSA McAL to the tune of $605,962,200, even though local firms could have supplied the same quantity and quality of drugs at cheaper prices.
Questions are now being raised regarding what process was used to determine that ANSA McAL should receive the contract and why were local firms sidelined.