Every aspect of drug contract with HDM Labs is suspicious, the Minister must provide answers

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to articles appearing in Kaieteur News on the 8th day of July 2018, under the caption `NY-based company sole sourced in $366M drug contract -major local suppliers disqualified’ and in Stabroek News on the 9th day of July 2018, under the caption `Questions raised about Ministry’s sole-sourcing of $367m in drugs from HDM Labs’.

Immediately following the publication of these articles, I was able to acquire several documents, which include a copy of the Tender Evaluation Report MMU-08-2017 and MMU-09-2017, as well as letters to the Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) dated 19th day of June 2017, and letters to HDM Labs Inc. dated the 20th day of June 2017.

Editor, I wish to use this opportunity to ask the Minister of Public Health to answer to the nation the following questions:

1.            Why were items omitted from the “big pharmaceuticals tender” and then subsequently sole-sourced from HDM Labs Inc.?

2.            An examination of the items that were omitted from the “big pharmaceuticals tender” that was subsequently sole-sourced from HDM Labs Inc., strongly suggests a fixing of this arrangement. I am sure that the Minister would accept this opportunity, as part of her new found anti-corruption campaign, to explain how this omission occurred. Who was responsible for this grave violation? And if sole-sourcing to HDM Labs Inc. was the best possible option available to remedying this unusual occurrence, could the Minister further state whether we received value for money by way of this purchase?

3.            The Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Public Health wrote to the Chairman of the NPTAB requesting the sole-sourcing of $366,926,660 on the 19th day of June 2017, to facilitate this transaction and in her letter, she stated the following:

“HDM Labs Inc. has great capacity in delivering Supplies to the Ministry of Public Health within two weeks time frame.”

“HDM Labs Inc is a recognized and efficient supplier country wide.”

Could the Minister, in the interest of transparency, inform the nation who is the owner(s) or principal(s) of HDM Labs Inc., when they were registered for business in Guyana and on what occasion(s) did HDM Labs Inc. deliver pharmaceuticals to the Ministry of Public Health within a two weeks’ time frame, as stated by the PS of the Ministry in her letter? This would constitute emergency purchases.

4.            Please provide information that will bring comfort to the public that HDM Labs Inc. is a recognized and efficient supplier nationwide. Specifically, we would like to be informed about which companies/institutions, apart from the Ministry of Public Health, HDM Labs Inc. supplied pharmaceuticals to and the quantities, within the last two years? Further, please state why companies that manufacture and distribute these pharmaceuticals, locally, were not offered an opportunity to provide these services?

5.            Further, after applying to the Chairman of NPTAB to sole-source pharmaceuticals, a day later the PS wrote to HDM Labs Inc. awarding the company the contract. Could the Minister provide the nation with the approval letter from NPTAB that allowed for this transaction and state under which category of Section 28 of the Procurement Act of 2003, was the request granted?

Editor, every aspect of this transaction is

suspicious and points to acts of insider trading, contract fixing and squandering of public funds and the Government’s newly discovered fetish, misconduct in public office.

I am sure that the Minister having publicly disclosed that there is fraud in the public sector and blatant attempts to steal and other brazen dishonest acts perpetuated by employees, with a threat to involve the Police and state auditors, would welcome this opportunity to explain to the nation, publicly, the issues surrounding this transaction and to answer my questions, which are adumbrated above.

Yours faithfully,

Bishop Juan A. Edghill

PPP/C Member of Parliament

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