Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo says government rented office space instead of a pharmaceutical bond from Linden Holdings Limited, a company controlled by a member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), a move he said smacks of corruption and incompetence.
“This scandalous corrupt act demonstrates the level of petulance, fickleness, lack of transparency and accountability, and irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money. Crocodile tears will not work; this corrupt act involves the entire Cabinet. Nothing short of the revocation of this contract will suffice,” said Jagdeo in a brief statement.
The contract says government will be renting professional office space.
Controlling Linden Holdings Limited is Lawrence “Larry” Singh, a government arms supplier and owner of Midtown Restaurant that up to recently was being frequented by senior coalition government functionaries.
The Lot 28 Sussex Street building was bought for GYD$25 million in March, 2016 and has since been remodeled and equipped to operate as a pharmaceutical bond for drugs purchased by the Guyana government.
Jagdeo has since called for the revocation of the contract, a copy of which is expected to accompany an apology that Public Health Minister, Dr. George Norton is expected to present to the Speaker of the National Assembly on Friday.
An unsigned copy of the contract to be released on Friday has raised more questions than answers, at a time when Norton is about to apologise for providing inaccurate information to the House during a recent consideration of approval of expenditure for rental of the facility on Sussex Street, Albouystown.
Government has already found itself seeking to deny charges by the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) that the bond is a sweetheart deal that had been passed on to directly to Singh instead of being open to public tender.
The Opposition Leader insisted that the building transaction is a bad deal and that government would not be getting value for money compared to the bond that is available from New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (NGPC). A major player in NGPC is Jagdeo’s best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop. That company had been consistently awarded multi-million dollar contracts for the supply of pharmaceuticals to the public health sector while the PPPC was in office, raising concerns about favourtism and nepotism.
The contract, according to Jagdeo, specifies that the facility will be rented for $GYD12.5 million VAT exclusive (GYD$14.5M) for a 6,000 square feet.
The NGPC certified pharmaceutical bond bond was available for GYD$19 million VAT Inclusive for a 70,000 square feet . He calculated that per square foot the government is paying GYD$2,416 for a 6,000 square feet building versus GYD$271 for a 70,000 square feet. “This can only be an act of corruption,” he said.