Evaluation of bidders for $5B drug supplies underway

-results due by June

Three experts have been identified by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) and have begun the highly-anticipated evaluation of pre-qualification documents for the supply of $5 billion worth of medical supplies for Guyana’s health sector.

The names of the selected companies can be expected by the end of June, Stabroek News understands.

Trinidadian conglomerate ANSA McAl and the locally-based New GPC are among seven companies that submitted pre-qualification documents on February 18 last for the supply and delivery of medical supplies.

Western Scientific Company, another firm out of Trinidad and Tobago, is also seeking to supply and deliver pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and other consumables.

The remaining companies, which are all Guyana-based, are Telcom Solutions (Guyana) Inc, Meditron Scientific Sales, International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) and Global Healthcare Supplies Inc.

The pre-qualification for health supplies covers the 2014 to 2016 period and comes amid concerns that new pre-qualification criteria were tailored to favour New GPC, which has earned billions of dollars in drug supply contracts in recent years.

Stabroek News understands that the names of the evaluators will not be made public until after the companies had been notified of the evaluation results as this was done to safeguard the integrity of the process.

The evaluators, three men, have also signed confidentiality clauses and if broken can be charged before the courts and blacklisted from serving in similar capacities.

According to the evaluation criteria, bidders will be awarded points according to how they score on a number of questions in the categories of ‘General Infor-mation,’ ‘Financial Capacity,’ ‘Infrastruc-ture,’ ‘Previous Experience,’ ‘Established Linkages,’ ‘Manufacturer/Distributor Information,’ ‘Quality Information’ and ‘Product Information.’

It said that out of 200 available points, all entities seeking to prequalify to bid must score 80 per cent.

Preference will be given to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Guyana and companies that have appropriate warehousing facilities in Guyana, according to the evaluation criteria document. It said too that products manufactured in Guyana and certified by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department automatically qualify and are eligible for a 10 per cent price advantage compared with imported items.

Under General Information, the evaluators will ask whether an applicant is a legally registered company in Guyana and will award a maximum score of 5 points for this. Under Financial Capacity, an applicant will earn maximum points for having a turnover of $1 billion, net assets of over $500 million and paying at least $50 million a year in corporate taxes to the Treasury.

In addition, 5 points are awarded if a company has over 50 full-time employees with an average time on the job of three years. Under Infrastructure, 10 points are given if the applicant has a warehouse facility of 30,000 square feet in Georgetown or its environs, with suitable equipment, staff, IT, security, certification and sanitation. An additional five points are awarded if the facility has three separate temperature control zones for the storage of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. Having a separate area for the storage of controlled substances, i.e. narcotics, will attract a score of 10 points.

While many of the criteria are reasonable for developing countries seeking to boost local drug manufacturing, the continued favouring of New GPC, which became prominent during the Bharrat Jagdeo administration, has led the political opposition to charge that the government’s intention is to steer the majority of drug supply business to New GPC no matter what. Reputable international suppliers who may not have warehouses here, are not locally registered and clearly do not have a turnover of $1 billion would be automatically shut out, critics argue.

Prior to New GPC’s rise to prominence, specialized overseas agencies had supplied over 90% of the government’s requirements.

During this year’s budget estimates deliberations, Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsaran told the National Assembly that it is a known fact that New GPC received a large amount of contracts. “Historic data show that the New GPC gets a significant slice of the pie,” he had said.

Ramsaran then also promised to submit to the National Assembly data that shows what percentage of the health sector’s funds went to New GPC for drug supplies and which other companies supplied the Ministry of Health with drugs. A comparative pricing list was also requested for other companies, which Ramsaran promised to deliver. However, to date these documents have not been supplied.

This year more than $5 billion of the Ministry of Health’s Budget will go towards the purchasing of drugs and medical supplies.

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