Sole-sourcing and the New GPC

It is by no means an overstatement to say that the refusal by the Ministry of Health to secure drugs for state institutions through public tender rather than persist with its sole-sourcing method that basically puts public funds into the pocket of the Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) without the company having to do much more than simply go out an acquire the drugs is highly improper. It is, after all, no secret that GPC Director Ranjisinghi Ramroop is a friend of the administration. Dr Ramroop, moreover, is by no means the only person close to the administration who has been known to benefit from its preferential generosity.

Sole sourcing and selective tendering are among the favoured ways of awarding contracts to people who are strategically placed to benefit from state-provided largesse. They create a wholly uneven playing field in the business community by shutting out from what ought to be an open and transparent tender process, legitimate contractors who may not be friends of the regime and who, in consequence, must, like the biblical Lazarus, settle for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.  In other words, the kind of sole sourcing which GPC enjoys can be used as both a political and an economic lever to patronize friends and deny those who are not so favoured.

Three issues arise here. First, there is the absolute scandal of the approval of these sole-sourcing arrangements by a state-appointed body called the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board – based in all likelihood on political directives. Such arrangements disqualify some contractors purely on the grounds that they are not sufficiently well-connected. Secondly, there is the matter of the role that these dubious practices play in fuelling corruption in the state-related acquisition transactions; and these are continually outlined in the reports of the Auditor General.  There is another issue that arises here and that is the protracted and stony silence of the national private sector bodies on issues like the establishment of a Public Procurement Commission despite the fact that in the absence of such a commission the real victims are contractors of one sort or another since it is they who continue to be excluded from the tender process and, in effect, continue to be denied the right to work. Do the local private sector bodies like the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry not consider matters such as this deserving of some kind of public comment?

In contending – as he did recently – that the Stabroek News is targeting his business, Dr Ramroop is overlooking the fact that by according the New GPC the privilege of sole-sourcing the Ministry of Health is ignoring a recommendation made by the Auditor General six years ago that it pre-qualify international suppliers every three years for the supply of drugs and medical equipment. More than that, his posture of hurt feelings appears to be premised on the assumption that the prerogative of sole-sourcing is an entitlement which is the same as saying that no other local contractor deserves the right to be afforded the opportunity to supply drugs to the Ministry of Health through the public tender process. That is an assumption which Dr Ramroop must disabuse himself of since there are far bigger issues at stake here than his own hurt feelings.


The Small Business Bureau…going forward

The materialization of a report that allows some insights into the performance of the much vaunted Small Business Bureau in terms of its role in kick-starting a transformation in the small business sector finally allows us the opportunity to evaluate what it has accomplished so far, what some of its failings are and what sorts of adjustments/corrective measures it might take.

Implementing 20% of state contracts to small businesses

It is widely believed that if smoothly implemented and scrupulously monitored the actualization of the provision in the Small Business Act of 2004 for a 20% allocation of government’s “goods and services” contracts to small businesses could make a major, positive difference to the country.

City Hall’s helplessness in another potentially emerging crisis

The breathing space afforded City Hall in the wake of central government’s intervention to liquidate the City’s indebtedness to Cevons Waste Management and Puran Brothers and to foot the bill for services up to the end of December last year, is over.

Strengthening Guyana/Brazil economic relations

It would be entirely fair to say that successive political administrations in Guyana have, over time, continually squandered what, unquestionably, have been glaring opportunities to take advantage of the fact that Brazil, by far this continent’s largest country with the biggest economy, shares a border with us.

Influence peddlers ‘touting’ for would-be investors

During an extended discourse with the Stabroek Business on Wednesday, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin went to some trouble to make the point that the APNU+AFC administration was particularly keen to provide a convivial environment within which to attract investor attention and (in the presence of Go-Invest Chief Executive Officer, Owen Verwey) made the point that one of his Ministry’s priorities was to properly position and equip Go-Invest to provide the various services associated with investor inquiries.

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