Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon this morning announced that only the New GPC has been pre-qualified to supply drugs to the health sector.
He made the announcement at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing. There has been great public interest in this decision over concerns that the government has consistently favoured New GPC over the decade or so for drug supplies because of the close relationship between senior government officials and the Head of New GPC. Billions of dollars are at stake in these contracts.
Last year, amid the controversy, the government unveiled a new pre-qualification process.
Trinidadian conglomerate ANSA McAl and New GPC were among seven companies which submitted pre-qualification documents on February 18th last to the NPTAB. 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 (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. Critics have argued that the 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 pre-qualify 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 Department automatically qualify and are eligible for a 10 percent 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 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.