Minister of Public Health Dr George Norton plans to meet with Director of the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department Marlan Cole and the Chief Executive Officer of Sueria Manufactur-ing Frank Sanichara to get to the bottom of allegations of abuse of power levelled against the Director.
This was related by Norton during a press briefing held yesterday concerning an outbreak of chicken pox in the Paramakatoi region.
Norton related that the ministry is examining complaints made by Sanichara and will be inviting him along with Cole to have discourse so a solution can be determined.
Sanichara, joined by other importers, led a protest outside the Ministry of the Presidency and the Ministry of Public Health on Wednesday. They were protesting what Sanichara referred to as unlawful action by Cole, whom he accused of showing bias and refusing to accept certification for authentic products.
Norton divulged that Sanichara had written to him about the situation, but he had not been aware that protest action would be taken.
Sanichara said last evening that he had spoken to the minister but a formal call for a meeting had not been made prior to the protest.
“Yes, he has written to the president and myself and I have been instructed by the president to examine his complaints of victimization and abuse by the Director of the Foods and Drugs Department,” Norton stated.
In response to a claim published in the Kaieteur News on Thursday and reportedly made by Sanichara at the protest on Wednesday, during which he alleged that Cole professed that Norton “cannot direct his job,” Norton stated that “the Director of Food and Drug answers to the CMO [Chief Medical Officer], the CMO falls under the ambit of both ministers…so unless the director is a minister himself….”
On Wednesday, Sanichara, who explained that free sale certificates differ by country, said Cole has requested that additional criteria be provided on the forms. “He’s asking us to ask government agencies to amend the format to suit him,” Sanichara said.
Sanichara confirmed that Cole was concerned with the authenticity of one of the products he is importing and although he would not verify which, a source related that it is the Juicy Juice brand. He stated that the director is contesting the juice content of the product, but has produced no lab reports to support his claims. “He’s challenging it based on personal opinion… I don’t want preferential treatment… I am not above the law, I’m not asking for favours, I’m not lobbying to bring in substandard products,” Sanichara had stated.
He further stated that similar products are being sold by other companies who are in clear violation of labelling regulations.