The names of the companies pre-qualified to supply the health sector with billions of dollars in drugs will soon be made available to Cabinet for its no-objection to be given.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Leslie Cadogan told Stabroek News on Wednes-day that the evaluation process was completed and the documents were back with the National Procure-ment and Tender Adminis-tration Board (NPTAB) which will send the names of the selected companies to Cabinet for its no-objection.
There is great public interest in this decision as drug supply contracts have been rife with controversy over the years.
Cabinet meets tomorrow and it is possible that its no-objection deliberations on the selectees could commence then. If this is done, by the end of the end of the week an announcement could be made on the selected companies.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon last week informed that tendering for drugs has halted and would not commence until the new pre-qualified companies were announced. Further, he stated that the Ministry of Health was working around the clock to have the evaluation completed and government expects an announcement soon.
Trinidadian conglomerate ANSA McAl and New GPC are among seven companies which submitted pre-qualification documents on February 18th last to the NPTAB. Western Scientific Com-pany, 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 (Guy-ana) Inc., Meditron Scientific Sales, Inter-national Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) and Global Healthcare Supplies Inc.
This pre-qualification of suppliers is to cover the period 2014 to 2016 and comes amid concerns that new pre-qualification criteria were tailored to favour New GPC, which was awarded billions of dollars in controversial drug supply contracts over the years.
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 Information,’ ‘Financial Capacity,’ ‘Infrastructure,’ ‘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 percent.
Preference will be given to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Guyana and companies that have appropriate warehousing facilities here, according to the evaluation criteria document. It said, too, that products manufactured in Guyana and certified by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Depart-ment automatically qualify and are eligible for a 10 percent price advantage compared with imported items.
Under General Infor-mation, 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 5 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 the drug supply business to New GPC no matter what. Reputable international suppliers, which may not have warehouses here, are not locally-registered and clearly do not have turnover of $1 billion would be automatically shut out, critics argue.
Prior to New GPC’s rise to prominence, specialised overseas agencies had supplied over 90% of the government’s requirements.
New GPC has a close relationship with the PPP/C government and opposition MPs have for years questioned the circumstances under which drug supply contracts were awarded to the company. During this year’s budget estimates deliberations, 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. To date, he has not done so.