Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2016, 6:32 by Denis Chabrol
The Ministry of Public Health will this year construct a new bond to store medical supplies, even as it has allocated GYD$150 million to next year continue renting the controversial bond at Sussex Street, Albouystown from a businessman.
During consideration of the 2017 Budget estimates of expenditure, Public Health Minister George Norton announced that GYD$250 million have been set aside for the Drug Bond at Kingston to store drugs and medical supplies.
GYD$18.725 milliom were allocated to rent buildings last year, but that figure has grown to GYD$180 million including GYD$12.5 million monthly for the Sussex Street building.
“This sum of money that has been earmarked for the construction of this bond was done with the consultation of the Ministry of Infrastructure and they arrived at this sum so from here we can go on and decide all the details of the construction,” he told the House, sitting in Committee of Supply.
Norton said the “modern bond” would include cold storage, under questioning from the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s Shadow Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.
Earlier during consideration of the estimates, the Public Health Minister confirmed that GYD$180 million have been budgeted for renting the bond owned by Larry Singh’s Linden Holdings Inc on Sussex, Street, Albouystown, Georgetown.
“We are addressing the rental for the year 2017,” when the PPPC’s Parliamentarian, Anil Nandlall asked about the status of a cabinet sub-committee decision to shorten the three-year contract for renting the Sussex Street bond.
Unlike two weeks ago when the PPPC had successfully claimed that no medication was being stored at that bond, Norton began reading a list of medicines that are being stored at that facility.
In addition to the Kingston Bond, Sussex Street Bond, and the Diamond-based Materials Management Unit, he said the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation was still storing medical supplies at the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation’s (NGPC) bond.
The rental of that bond includes fees for electricity, water and cold storage, the House was told by the Public Health Minister.
Controversy first flared up earlier this year after the PPPC uncovered that the bond was being rented from Larry Singh, a member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the major coalition partner- without any competitive bidding.
The PPPC has also maintained that the rental of the Sussx Street bond is far more expensive than the deal that the New GPC had been offering.
Government still buys a large quantity of medicines from New GPC, although it has ended the pre-qualified status of that company to allow other local and foreign suppliers to bid.