Still no Cabinet decision on ‘Pharmagate’ findings

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first_img… but Public Health Minister acted in good faith – Granger The Cabinet Council of Ministers, Chaired by President David Granger, has not met in two weeks; as such, no decision has been made with regards to the Sub-Committee’s recommendations to renegotiate a contract between the Public Health Ministry and Linden Holdings Inc for the storage of Government’s drugs and medical supplies.The Head of State made this pronouncement on Thursday, when quizzed by Guyana Times for an update on any decisions made.The President said he did not want to pre-empt the collective decision of the Cabinet, save to say that, “we know there was an error of judgment.”According to President Granger, “we believe that the Minister operated in good faith… He received information which quite possibly was inaccurate.”Pressed on any decisions by Cabinet, Granger explained that over the past two weeks, there have been no meetings of the highest decision-making forum of the Executive, since “the Cabinet Secretary and other people had to do work in other places.”Government is still functioning, according to the Head of State, who sought to assure that despite not meeting, “Cabinet is still functioning and the matter (drug bond brouhaha) will come up again when we meet on the (September) 6th.”He told Guyana Times however that, “As far as we are concerned the investigative process is at an end and we want to make sure there is no re-occurrence…that’s just all I can say at this stage.”The Cabinet Sub-Committee that was appointed by the President has completed their report following their investigations, which have since been handed over.That body was chaired by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and included Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.That Cabinet Sub-Committee report has recommended that the agreement to pay Linden Holdings Inc in excess of $12.5 million to rent its Sussex Street property to be used to store Government’s drugs and medical supplies, be re-negotiated.The matter came to the fore on August 8, when the National Assembly considered advances made from the Contingencies Fund in addition to a request to access the coffers for more money.It was during the consideration of the papers that it was discovered that Government had in fact already paid over $25 million to Linden Holdings Inc – the exact amount the company paid for the Sussex Street property just days before.Linden Holdings Inc has as its principal shareholder Larry Singh – a prominent supporter of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR); the party making up the largest bloc of the coalition the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).Linden Holding’s Inc has its registered office in Middle Street, Georgetown, in the same building that housed the Sidewalk Café and owned by Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes. Its bond is located at 69 Sussex Street, Albouystown.The agreement has come in for increased scrutiny with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo recently labelling the entire affair as a “corrupt act” which is only being covered up by the Granger appointed sub-committee.Among the recommendations made by the sub-committee is the renegotiating of the contract in order to secure a lower price for the facility, since it was found that a similar facility could be obtained at a cheaper rate.The sub-committee had also recommended that Cabinet terminate the contract should Singh’s Linden Holdings Inc refuse but this will require one year notice being issued to Singh.Another of the recommendations made was for the Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton to issue a public apology, which he has since done.Dr Norton met with media operatives on Friday last, and apologised for telling the National Assembly that New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (NEW GPC INC) had been paid in excess of $19 million for the rental of its drug bond and that drugs had already been stored at the controversial Sussex Street property.According to Dr Norton, ever since August 8, 2016, “I have come to the firm position that the answer given to the questions related to NEW GPC and the storage of drugs at the bond at 29 Sussex Street, were not accurate and these were based on information provided to me; in the circumstances, I wish to express my sincere and profound regret to his Excellency, Brigadier David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; Honourable Dr Barton Scotland, Speaker of the National Assembly; Prime Minister Mr Moses Nagamootoo and my parliamentary colleagues of the APNU/AFC; members of the parliamentary Opposition and all others who were present or were able to observe the process of the consideration of the estimates.”According to Dr Norton, “as Minister of Public Health I know that the high standard of duty and care is expected of me and the staff of the Ministry of Public Health, so I take full responsibility for this unfortunate episode and give my full commitment that it will not re-occur.”last_img

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