Teixeira, Edghill submit raft of questions on drug procurement for Lawrence to answer in Parliament

The PPP/C says it wants “full disclosure” pertaining to the over $605 million emergency drug purchase for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and therefore has moved to have questions answered on the matter in the National Assembly.

“Let me tell you what we are hoping to get, what we seeking to achieve; full disclosure,” PPP/C parliamentarian Juan Edghill told a press conference held at the office of the Leader of the Opposition, yesterday.

The questions were submitted to the National Assembly, seeking written answers from Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence on overall procurement by her ministry and the $605 million drug purchase.

Yesterday, both Edghill and Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira informed that they had submitted questions to the National Assembly, while criticizing the $605 million purchase saying that Lawrence has not, in their opinion, provided the nation with clear answers. “The nation is being told there was a shortage… But you all could recall the Minister of Health saying during a motion that there was no shortage,” Edghill stressed.

He explained that a few questions were submitted to the National Assembly, and they were “by no means all the questions” the party has on the matter. Questioning would be done in phases, he added, so that in the end there would be clarity as to what is happening in the procurement sector of the ministry.

Among the questions asked of Lawrence was what was the total sum expended for drugs and medical supplies for the Ministry of Public Health and specifically the GPHC, between January 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017 and what percentage of the 2016 budgetary allocations for drugs and medical supplies was expended by December 31, 2016.

He said the party wanted to know if any monies were unspent and returned to the Consolidated Fund and how much was returned. It also questions the reasons for the underperformance in the procurement of drugs and medical supplies for the public health system.

“Could the Hon Minister provide the following information to the National Assembly: the name of each supplier, the value of each contract and date of award, the name of the supplier/s which failed to deliver within the stipulated contractual period and by what amount, the name of the supplier which delivered inferior/substandard drugs and medical supplies,” Lawrence is asked.

“Could the Hon Minister state in each case of procurement whether these tenders were publicly advertised? If so, when and where? And, if any of these awardees were pre-qualified? And, in each case of the above, which body of the Ministry of Public Health was responsible for evaluating and recommending the award of these contracts?” Edghill further questions.

Additionally, Lawrence is probed about the contracted suppliers which delivered drugs and medical supplies that were expired, were close to expiry date, and/or, of an inferior quality, between January 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017.

She is also requested to provide the specific drug, and, or medical supply, and the dollar value in each case which was procured and found to be expired, and or, of inferior quality.

In her defence of the $605 million she “fast tracked” to purchase the emergency medical supplies, Lawrence had said that her decision was based on the fact that many suppliers did not meet their contractual obligations.

And while she did not name any company, she had also stated that the police were investigating allegations of fraud pertaining to procurement in the ministry.

It is to this end that she is asked to state if she has information that any employee of the Ministry of Public Health, and, in particular the Materials Management Unit, and/or the GPHC, has been complicit with contractors/suppliers of pharmaceutical and medical supplies in defrauding the state.

If her answer is in the affirmative, she should state what actions have been taken to investigate these allegations, state whether the Office of the Auditor General and or the Guyana Police Force have been called in to investigate these allegations.

Lawrence had moved her office to the government drug bond at Diamond, East Bank Demerara saying it was in a bid to ensure a smooth flow in drug procurement and distribution.

The Opposition is asking her to state “whether her unusual decision to relocate her ministerial office to the Diamond Drug Bond, EBD, as publicly announced in January 2017, has provided the opportunity for the minister to take a more hands-on approach to the procurement of drugs and medical supplies for the public health system.”

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