The Ministry of Health has produced evidence that in October last year it formally notified all bidders who were interested in supplying drugs to the health sector of the status of their tenders in the highly controversial process that resulted in only the New GPC being cleared.
The government had been accused of devising pre-qualification procedures to suit New GPC, with which it has had close ties, and to shut out others. This led to close scrutiny of the process and a dispute then arose last year as to whether the ministry had complied with the Procurement Act as regards notifying the unsuccessful bidders. Once notified, these bidders have a certain window within which to lodge a protest.
Correspondence made available by the ministry to Stabroek News showed that on October 21, 2014 it had written to all the bidders identifying the defects in their bids and in the case of New Guyana Pharmaceu-tical Corporation (NGPC) informing it of its success.
Trinidadian conglomerate ANSA McAL was one of the companies that had publicly complained that it had not been notified of the status of its bid following an announcement by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon on July 23 last year that only NGPC had been prequalified.
The Ministry of Health then blamed the National Pro-curement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for not advising it formally of the decision. This was later done and based on the ministry’s correspondence, another month elapsed before the official notification went to NGPC and ANSA McAL among others.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry Leslie Cadogan in February this year told this newspaper that he had, as required by law, submitted letters to all bidders.
However, up to March this year ANSA McAL Chief Executive Officer Beverly Harper had told Stabroek News that her company had not been notified and that she had asked the Ministry of Health to provide evidence that it had been notified of the decision.
Cadogan said he spoke with Harper on the issue and subsequently resent one of the said letters. He showed this newspaper copies of all the letters dispatched with the signatures of persons at the respective companies who signed for them.
ANSA McAL’s letter was addressed to its Pharmaceutical Manager, Mr S Maikoo and the letter was signed as received for by a C C Ross on October 22, 2014. Efforts by Stabroek News to contact Harper proved futile.
“The Ministry of Health wishes to inform you that your proposal for the supply and delivery of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies was not recommended by the evaluation committee for the following reason: Manufacturer’s authorization/s not provided,” the letter to ANSA McAL read.
The Trinidadian conglomerate and New GPC were among seven companies which submitted pre-qualification documents on February 18th last year to the NPTAB. Western Scientific Company, another firm out of Trinidad and Tobago, Telcom Solutions (Guyana) Inc, Meditron Scientific Sales, Inter-national Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) and Global Healthcare Supplies Inc were the others. ANSA McAL was seen as having the best chance of challenging NGPC’s virtual monopoly of the supply of drugs to the local health sector.
It is unclear what ANSA McAL’s next move will be as the period to lodge a formal protest, five days after receiving notification of the decision from the Ministry of Health, has elapsed.
International Pharma-ceutical Company (IPA) had filed a court challenge against the decision to prequalify only NGPC. This challenge was filed before the October 21, 2014 notification from the Ministry of Health.
The company, through its attorney, filed the motion in the High Court against the Attorney General, saying the decision or recommendation made by the NPTAB that it does not meet the criteria to supply drugs to government for 2014 to 2016 is unfair, unreasonable, un-constitutional, unlawful, and null, void and of no legal effect.
In the October 21, 2014 letter from the MOH, the reason listed was because its bond did not meet the standard set by the evaluation team.
While a variety of defects were cited by the ministry in the bids of six of the companies, not a single defect was listed in the letter to NGPC.
NGPC’s virtual monopoly over supplies to the public health system has engaged Parliament for nearly a decade over concerns that the government favoured it to the exclusion of all others. At one stage government was single sourcing from NGPC and this had to be halted after there were adverse comments in the annual report of the Auditor General.