Despite the Health Ministry’s claim that it met its legal obligation to inform unsuccessful bidders that they had not been prequalified to supply drugs to Guyana’s health sector, at least two of them, including ANSA McAL, maintain that they have yet to see any official notice.
As a result, ANSA McAL is calling on the Ministry of Health to make available documentation that a letter was delivered to it informing the company that it failed to prequalify. “We only learned that this letter was sent out through the newspaper article… we have not received anything, so we have written them to provide us with who signed for it and a copy of the said letter,” ANSA McAL’s Chief Executive Officer Beverly Harper told Stabroek News.
She was referring to a report in Stabroek News last month about Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Leslie Cadogan’s explanation that bidders who did not prequalify had been formally notified as is required by law.
“…They were written to and each bidder that was written to signed on the duplicate that we have in our possession, as receiving notification that they were responsive or non-responsive,” Cadogan said at a recent news conference. He went to explain that the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corpora-tion (New GPC) was the sole entity pre-qualified to supply drugs to the public health sector for the 2014 to 2016 period.
Cadogan could not say when the letters were distributed to the companies but informed that he could find out and relay the information.
Cadogan had previously been silent on why companies which tendered for the pre-qualification on since February 18 last year were not officially notified as to the status of their bid up to late January. The situation had raised concerns about who has been supplying the nation with drugs over the previous six months and if any procurement laws were being broken.
Stabroek News understands that another bidder also has not received the notification letter.
Stabroek News called and visited the Permanent Secretary’s office and was told by a woman who identified herself as “Ms Wilson” that he was in a meeting with the Minister of Health but that the reporter’s name and number should be left and she would return a call. Up to press time yesterday, no call was received.
A source explained to Stabroek News that the claim by the ministry that it had sent the letter to unsuccessful bidders was a way of shielding itself from the litigation ANSA McAL is mulling.
“It can be one of two things; that is, they said they sent the letter to probably establish that the timeline for objections has passed and McAL has no case and New GPC continues to get all the contracts. Or, they are playing this out and buying time until after elections to see what the results will be and then take it from there,” the source added.
ANSA McAL, up to Friday afternoon, had not yet received a response from the Ministry of Health.
Harper pointed out that had it not been for the Stabroek News article the company would not have been aware of the ministry’s claims about dispatching the letters to non-responsive bidders as it is required to by law.
Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon had announced last July that only the New GPC had been selected to supply drugs to the public health sector for the period, which led to formal protests by ANSA McAL and a court challenge of the decision by the International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), which said that the decision was unconstitutional.
Then in October, Luncheon acknowledged that official documentation was not sent to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) informing it of Cabinet’s no-objection to the selection, while the Health Ministry went on record during the same month about being in the dark as to who won the contract as it had not received correspondence from the NPTAB.
An official of the NPTAB told Stabroek News that the letter was prepared around October 13 last year and was dispatched and is logged in the NPTAB’s records. The official explained that it was then the ministry’s role to notify all bidders on the status of their bid. “NPTAB’s role is complete for now; only if there are protests and that sort of thing. The ball is now in the hands of Ministry of Health to notify all the bidders…,” the official had explained.