By Svetlana Marshall
THE Public Health Ministry will do away with the monopolistic procurement arrangement involving NEW GPC, Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings, said on Tuesday during her contribution to the budget debates.She told the House that the APNU+AFC Government has inherited an “albatross” in the NEW GPC, the only supplier of drugs to the Health Sector. “Mr Speaker, that the previous Government would sell 90 per cent of its shares in an entity it owned and controlled, only to turn back and buy drugs from the same entity — which has become a private enterprise — is imprudent as much as it is appalling,” she told the House.
“Now the Health Sector is burdened with buying drugs from a single source, because the procedure of prequalification was decidedly skewed in favour of that particular company,” Dr Cummings added.
She, however, assured that the procurement process within the Public Health Sector is being comprehensively reformed, with emphasis on transparent procedures. As such, the Public Health Ministry will shift into gear – moving away from sole sourcing to open, competitive bidding.
“Mr Speaker, open competitive bidding is on the horizon. Sole sourcing of drugs, as we know it, will end very soon! This APNU+AFC Government will ensure that it does not water the hard earned taxpayers’ dollars on enriching the pockets of the undeserving,” Dr Cummings said firmly.
Cabinet had, in January, approved the sum of seven hundred million dollars for the purchase of essential drugs and other pharmaceutical supplies for health facilities in all 10 administrative regions; but in approving $700M for fresh supplies, the Government had opted to implement a fair and open bidding process for all suppliers in the pharmaceutical industry to get an opportunity to secure contracts.
While in Opposition, both the APNU and AFC, which now form the six-party coalition, had declared that, when elected, they would have ended the discriminatory practice of sole-sourcing of medical supplies.
The Ministry of Public Health has received support from the USAID to develop a new standard for an open, competitive bidding system. A bidding document to this effect has been approved by the National Tender Administration Board, following which a pre-bid meeting with all potential bidders was held on December 16, 2015. A multi-billion-dollar pre-qualification sole-sourcing contract with the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (New GPC) was ended in October 2015.