Non-tender drug procurement not illegal, Ramsammy says

– to continue until December 2009

PNCR Member of Parliament, Winston Murray bombarded Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy on Thursday night last, with questions about the “illegal” procurement of drugs, to which Ramsammy responded that it was done within the laws of Guyana.

The final session for the consideration of the 2009 Estimates of Expenditure by the Committee of Supply on Thursday saw questioning by Opposition MPs of the Ministry of Health expenditure, with exchanges between Murray and Ramsammy about the procurement of drugs.  Declaring that the current purchase of drugs was being done illegally, Murray bombarded the minister with the same question as each allocation for the purchase of drugs and medical supplies came up.  “Does he [Ramsammy] intend in the year 2009 to follow the Procurement Act which stipulates public tendering as the basis for the acquisition of drugs and medical supplies?” asked Murray. “The Ministry of Health is procuring under a no-objection provided by the National Tender and Procurement Board, a letter for 2008 which takes us to December 31, 2009,” Ramsammy responded adding that it is being done within the laws of Guyana and the Procurement Act. And thus it went, with several rapid exchanges between the two.

Also grilled was Minister within the Ministry of Finance Jennifer Webster, who said that the financing figures for the Guyana Sugar Corporation Packaging Plant at Enmore would be a $585M loan from the Caribbean Development Bank while $1.2B would be from the government. Under questioning from Murray, she said that the $1.8B figure is a partial cost and the total cost would be $2.6B with the remainder of the money being budgeted for in next year’s budget and which would come from taxpayers’ funds. Under further questioning, Webster said that taxpayers should see the returns from the project within 10 years. Meantime, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad, under questioning from Murray stated that $350M has been allocated for the development of an industrial site at Lethem, $50M for the Belvedre Industrial Site and $100M for the Eccles Industrial Site. $300,000 has been budgeted for teacups and floral arrangements to enhance the ministry for this year, he said. The 2009 Budget was approved and passed later that night.

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