April 24, 2014

Govt stands by drug procurement policy

The headquarters of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation

The headquarters of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation

… competitive with seven pre-qualification applicants

The Health Ministry said it is standing by its drug procurement policy, rubbishing claims that it favours the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (NEW GPC), pointing out that the local company was one of seven that recently submitted bids to be prequalified to supply drugs to the state’s medical facilities.

In recent weeks, there have been a slew of articles from other media houses concerning the NEW GPC being granted contracts to supply drugs to the state, despite Government’s open bidding policy.

NEW GPC warehouse

NEW GPC warehouse

Only recently, seven companies including ANSA McAL, Telcom Solutions (Guyana) Inc, Medi-tron Scientific Sales, International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), Global Healthcare Supplies Inc and NEW GPC, submitted pre-qualification documents for the supply and delivery of medical and pharmaceutical supplies for Guyana’s health sector. This year, the total budgeted was some $5 billion. The pre-qualification for health supplies covers the years 2014 to 2016.

Transparent pre-qualification criteria

According to the evaluation criteria, which were modelled on the World Health Organisation’s  (WHO) criteria, bidders will be awarded points according to how they score on a number of questions in the categories of General Information, Financial Capacity, Infrastructure, Previous Experience, Established Linkages, Manufacturer/Distributor Information, Quality Information and Product Information.

 It specified that out of 200 available points, all entities seeking to prequalify to bid must score 80 per cent. Preference will be given to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Guyana as is normal in every country in the world in their procurement practices, including the USA. Companies should also have appropriate warehousing facilities in Guyana, according to the evaluation criteria document, to ensure that the Government does not have to receive all the pharmaceuticals at one time. It explained also that products required by the health sector that are manufactured in Guyana and certified by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department automatically qualify and are eligible for a 10 per cent price advantage compared with imported items.

 Under General Information, the evaluators will review the financial wherewithal of prospective suppliers to supply the multi-billion contracts. It asks whether an applicant is a legally registered company in Guyana and will award a maximum score of five points for this. Under Financial Capacity, an applicant will earn maximum points for having a turnover of $1 billion, net assets of over $500 million and paying at least $50 million a year in corporate taxes to the Treasury. In addition, five points are awarded if a company has over 50 full-time employees with an average time on the job of three years.

 Concerned that pharmaceuticals would be stored under the stringent WHO specifications, under Infrastructure, 10 points are given if the applicant has a warehouse facility of 30,000 square feet in Georgetown or its environs, with suitable equipment, staff, information technology, security, certification and sanitation. An additional five points are awarded if the facility has three separate temperature control zones for the storage of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. Having a separate area for the storage of controlled substances, that is, narcotics, will attract a score of 10 points.

AFC misinformation

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times on Wednesday, Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran reiterated that the NEW GPC will continue to supply medical drugs to the Georgetown Public Hospital if it satisfies the established criteria.  In a Kaieteur News article on Wednesday under the caption “AFC repeats call for end to drug purchases monopoly”, Alliance For Change (AFC) leader Khemraj Ramjattan renewed calls for a review of the drug purchasing policy. He incorrectly claimed that the Government must stop “sole sourcing”’ when in fact the prequalification process for which seven companies have already applied, preclude such an eventuality.

 The Health Minister rejected the arguments put forward by the AFC leader, stating that they are baseless.

“The AFC call is not justified,” he said when questioned about whether there is any need to review the existing procurement policy.

 In its quest to discredit the procurement policy and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, the Opposition had been claiming that the NEW GPC is highly favoured by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government.

“The relationship between the NEW GPC and Health Ministry is strictly professional. We ask for drugs, they deliver, we pay, the records are kept,” Minister Ramsaran said.  The Health Minister made it clear that there is no “hidden clause” in the contractual agreement between NEW GPC and the Health Ministry, as he called on the AFC and APNU to desist from misleading the public.

In a previous interview with this publication, Minister Ramsaran had said his Ministry will not sacrifice “quality for price” as far as the procurement of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals is concerned. Minister Ramsaran had said that the process through which companies, both locally and internationally are awarded Government contracts to supply pharmaceuticals and medical products is clearly outlined in the Procurement Act.

This process, he said is highly transparent and takes into consideration the needs of Guyana’s rapidly developing health sector as far as securing wholesome medical supplies are concerned.

Baird elated over historic feat

Kadecia Baird

Kadecia Baird

By Treiston Joseph

Just two days removed from the recently concluded Junior Carifta Games held in Martinique,US- based Guyanese Kadecia Baird could not contain her excitement on becoming Guyana’s first sprinter to win gold at the premier junior event of the Caribbean.

“Oh My God it feels great!” Baird told Guyana Times Sport about her achievement.

 Baird, won gold for Guyana in the women’s under-20 400 metres at the track and field event, clocking 53.84s to win Guyana’s first  gold medal in a sprint event at the games.

“I’m happy, excited all kind of emotions, that [winning gold] was the mindset going into the race… get the gold and at that time it didn’t matter  because the weather was on and off,” Baird told this publication exclusively.

In addition, Baird ,who could have added to the feat by capturing gold in the 200 metres was still proud of her silver medal despite the disappointing fall near the finish line that cost her the top podium prize.

“The 200 was an emotional race… that fall was a bit disappointing but I will say God has a plan for everything, I may not see it now but I will later.

“To fall and still be able to run a personal record feels great,” Baird mentioned  her 200 metres run in which she clocked 23.13s for the silver, while the winning time of the race was 23.10s.

Meanwhile, with the junior Carifta games behind, the 19- year- old quarter miler  has her sight set on accomplishing greater things for her native land.

“I am now going to focus on my college meets and then the focus is all on World Juniors for Guyana,” Baird noted in delight.

However, Baird was met with some confusion on her way out of Martinique as her flight had to be postponed for five hours due to a void ticket; and the flight being full dampened the experience of winning the gold.

Further, Baird will be in action again with her next competition scheduled for over the weekend.

Two modern science labs on the cards

President’s College students with their exhibits

President’s College students with their exhibits

…as National Science Fair opens

The 12th Bi Annual National Science, Mathematics and Technology Fair opened on Wednesday, with Education Minister Priya Manickchand announcing the construction of two modern science laboratories, one of which will be in Georgetown.

The Minister said a location for the other is yet to be decided, as she addressed a gathering at the Anna Regina Multilateral Secondary School, Region Two.

Manickchand said the fair seeks to stimulate interest in the sciences, pointing out that Guyana needs more scientists as science and technology hold the solutions for the 21 century.

She said that Government, recognising the importance of science and technology, has drafted a policy for these critical areas, with the help of UNSECO.

The Ministry has conducted numerous science programmes and seminars to assist teachers of the subject. These touched mainly on climate change, inquiry-based science and micro-science experiments. In 2013, Guyana hosted the Caribbean Science Foundation’s workshop, benefitting 40 teachers and 30 students.

Only recently, the revision of the Primary Science Easy Path Series (books 1-6) was completed and placed online.

The Minister said the micro-science programme will be expanded to more schools and will be implemented at the primary level.

Meanwhile, Region Two Chairman Parmanand Persaud said Guyana needs more scientists to remain a competitive nation in the 21 century.

Stimulate interest

Assistant Chief Education Officer (Secondary) Leslyn Edwards Charles emphasised the importance of science, and encouraged teachers to stimulate students’ interest in the subject.

Charles said the commencement of the fair started several months ago, with a fair committee headed by National Science Co-ordinator Petal-Punalall Jettoo.

She said activities were held in 11 educational districts, featuring some 388 projects. The best of the lot was on display during the science fair.

“Young people, I want you all to know, each one of you is talented, I thanked all the teachers in making the fair a success, let’s celebrate today our future scientists,” Charles urged.

President’s College students Kenia Maynard and Jetesh Sahadeo stole the spotlight, demonstrating the process of recycling plastic to make unique pieces of art and a fun park.

The park was made from plastic bottles, disposed at the school.

According to the students, based on a survey, some 2700 bottles are being dumped at their school on a weekly basis, while the board spends huge sums for garbage disposal.

There was another interesting project from students of Abram Zuil Secondary School, who demonstrated how processed rice husk can be used to make wood.

The fair saw participation from schools in all 10 administrative regions.

Focus

The projects focused on organic replacements for chemical fertilisers, technology to reduce furniture dust, uses of rice waste, flood reduction techniques, recycling floodwater, recycling paddy husk, water sanitisation, the uses of the bamboo plant, plastic shopping bags vs paper shopping bags, utilising wood waste and the importance of insects to the eco-system, among others.

The fair was held under the theme “Providing solutions for the 21st Century” and came as part of the Ministry’s effort to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in schools.

Some 100 schools demonstrated the use of STEM in solving problems at the community level. The fair featured educational movie corner, mangroves awareness workshops, climate change, microscience experiments and interactive Mathematics.

The occasion was attended by People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament (MP) Cornel Damon, Regional Education Officer Barmadai Seepersaud, National Science Co-ordinator Petal Punalall-Jettoo and Regional Vice Chairman Vishnu Samaroo, among other regional officers.

The event was sponsored by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).

Flying Ace cycling club names strong team for three-stage race

Jamal Eastman

Jamal Eastman

The Flying Ace Cycle Club (FACC) of Berbice has selected an eight-member team to participate in this year’s 32nd annual Independence Three-Stage Cycle road race.

The two-day event is billed for May 17-18 and will be held in collaboration with the National Sports Commission, the Sport Ministry and the Guyana Cycling Federation.

The cyclists named are Keith Griffith, Gary Benjamin, Ray Millington, Audrel Ross, Syborne Fernandes, Elijah Bijadder, Calet Bacchus and lone female rider, Maricia Dick.

Founder and coach of the club, Randolph Roberts, made the disclosure on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, when action pedals off on May 17, the riders will compete from the Corriverton Police Station to Alexander Street, New Amsterdam, covering a distance of 46.6 miles or 75 km. That leg is slated to start at 07:30h.

At 14:00h on the same day, the cyclists will start at Rosignol and finish at Carifesta Avenue, Georgetown, a total distance of 60.4 miles or 97.1 km.

Maricia Dick

Maricia Dick

The third and final stage, which will cover 64.5 miles or 103 km, will be held on May 18 with action starting at 08:00h at Kara Kara, Linden, and ending at Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown.

Altogether, the racers will cover 171.5 miles or 275.1 km of Guyana’s roadways.

At last year’s event, Barbadian Jamal Eastman, riding for local club Carlton Wheelers, won the overall title in six hours, 58 minutes, 13 seconds (06h: 58m: 13s). Eastman was in sublime form, winning stages one and two, while Guyanese Robin Persaud won the final stage.

Garrido-Lowe downplayed the voting down of the LCDS

Dear Editor,

Kindly permit me to state the following in response to a letter by Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament Valerie Garrido-Lowe in another section of the press on April 17.

Garrido-Lowe’s letter was a shameless and baseless attempt at excuses for her party to deny the Amerindian communities of Guyana their absolute right through the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF) to engage in their own social and economic development, which is a contravention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

What Garrido-Lowe downplayed in her letter was the voting down of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) allocation of $18.5 billion by her party and APNU. This means as well that the Amerindian Land-Titling Project, the Community Development Plans (CDPs) and the Micro and Small Enterprise Development (MSE) Plan have all collapsed.

The Amerindian demonstrators outside Parliament Building were, therefore,  correct to have chanted that some Opposition MPs are useless and incompetent to represent Amerindians at the highest level of decision-making, which is the Parliament.

They even chanted that both the AFC and APNU must go. Isn’t this a real shame on the part of the parliamentary Opposition to use its one-seat majority in Parliament to deprive Amerindian communities of social and economic development? This was where the Opposition MPs could have used their status to effectively represent the people. But this never happened.

Garrido-Lowe wants to know about the $500 million the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs received in supplementary funding in December 2013. The answer is simple. Garrido-Lowe needs to do her work as an MP – visit the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs where she will get all the information she needs.

I think this is where the Speaker of the House needs to conduct training for the Opposition MPs where information gathering is concerned. When last did Garrido-Lowe visit the MOAA?

Garrido-Lowe said that the $796 million allocation to the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP) is “far too much to be spent on this programme”. The budget estimates of expenditure are the Minister of Finance’s estimates and it is only he who can determine if the allocation is adequate.

Garrido-Lowe further said that the AFC wanted to hold discussions with the Government to reduce the YEAP Programme to $200 million. Absolute trash! The Minister of Amerindian Affairs provided all the answers and explanations to questions in relation to the YEAP and still the AFC and APNU voted against the ADF, which the YEAP falls under.

It was, therefore, a recklessly anti-Amerindian position taken by the parliamentary Opposition, of which Garrido-Lowe is a part.

Garrido-Lowe now seems to be lecturing to and advising Amerindians on the AFC’s role in cutting the ADF. I wonder why she and the other Amerindian Opposition MPs instead did not brave the storm by leaving the Parliament to speak to the Amerindian protest demonstrators.

I guess that they were ashamed of their betrayal. The Opposition Leader, David Granger and three of APNU’s MPs were all booed by the Amerindian protest demonstrators when they were seen. The Ministers of Government were all welcomed by the demonstrators who joyfully chanted, “We love you”.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Persaud

Andrew Bishop to head Land Use Policy Committee – HPS

Andrew Bishop

Andrew Bishop

Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr Roger Luncheon on Wednesday announced that Andrew Bishop will head the committee that will be tasked with the drafting of a national land use coordination policy.

The HPS explained that the aim of the initiative, which was approved by the Cabinet, is to prevent conflicts that arise from time to time. He said surface and sub-surface rights often overlap in areas pre-disposing to conflicts among leased and other rights’ holders. As such, this issue was deliberated on by the Presidential Commission on Competitiveness.

“The stakeholders under the competitiveness rubric presented President Donald Ramotar with a recommendation at the Presidential Commission, which was adopted by Government and has led to the formation of the Committee to draft the land use coordination policy,” Dr Luncheon said.

 The Committee will report directly to the Office of the President. Bishop holds degrees in Geography and Planning from York University and the University of Waterloo. He has worked as a Senior Planner in the Department of Land Use Planning in San Diego, and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners.  He also held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission as well as the Commissioner of Lands and Surveys of Guyana with responsibility for public land management, land policy and national land planning. More recently, he has been actively involved in the climate change arena, having been appointed as Special Adviser to the President and Lead Climate Change Negotiator.

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Keith Burrowes appointed CEO of GO-Invest

From the position as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Keith Burrowes has now been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the country’s premier investment agency.

This announcement was made by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon at his post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President on Wednesday.

Over the years, Burrowes sat on the boards of several entities, both in the public and private sectors. These include: Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Guyana Chronicle, and head of theHealth Sector Development Unit within the Health Ministry.

 In August 2012, Burrowes was appointed advisor to President Donald Ramotar on financial matters. He is known for his work in the probe into the discrepancies at the Georgetown City Council. GO-Invest was established under the Public Corporations Act of 1994 as a semi-autonomous body and falls directly under the purview of the Office of the President.

The CEO answers to a Board of Directors, which comprises representatives of both the private and public sectors.

Police hunting suspects in DJ Casual shooting

Injured: Deejay, Curtis Armstrong

Injured: Deejay, Curtis Armstrong

Crime Chief Leslie James on Wednesday said the Police are looking for two suspects in the shooting incident involving popular deejay and radio announcer Curtis Armstrong, who was shot twice in the wee hours of Monday morning.

James told Guyana Times that while the Police have the description of the two men who allegedly committed the act, he is optimistic that the victim will cooperate. He also stated that once the men are apprehended, they will be prosecuted.

On the other hand, the deejay said he is unable to identify the shooter, claiming that he is not familiar with them. It is not clear whether he is trying to obstruct the course of justice by not revealing relevant information to investigators. Nevertheless, the radio announcer is recuperating at in the Male Surgical Ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital.  He is out of danger, but according to a close friend of the deejay, he is still in a lot of pain.

Curtis Armstrong, 34, also called “Deejay Casual” of Guyhoc Park, Georgetown, was shot twice during a scuffle in the Parking Lot of the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara on Easter Monday. Another man, Sean Hinds, 30, of North Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, who intervened in the scuffle, was shot to his left leg and admitted to the same medical facility.

According to information received, the shooting stemmed from an argument over an ice bucket while they were in the VIP Section of the Guyana National Stadium. He apparently went to a friend’s table to collect some ice, but another man who was at the table was not too pleased; hence, he warned the radio announcer not to return.

This prompted an exchange of “disrespectful words” between the men which went on for a few minutes before the charade eventually ended with the intervention of a few friends. By this time, the rains came, leaving patrons scampering for cover.

It was this time, the deejay decided to walk to his car, but he was confronted by one of the suspects again and another argument ensued. During the argument, according to reports, a high-tempered Armstrong punched the suspect to the face, and a scuffle started.

A close friend of the deejay, who was at the hospital, said the suspect pulled out a gun from his waist and discharged a round on the ground in an attempt to scare Armstrong, but he did not back down. The deejay reportedly used explicit words, announcing that he was not afraid of guns and challenged the man to shoot him if he had “guts”. The man responded by discharging two rounds, one hitting Armstrong to the hand and the other in the abdomen.

Hinds, who was close by, went to Armstrong’s rescue and was shot to his left leg by the man who was armed with a .32 revolver. The suspect, along with another man then boarded a Toyota Tundra and made good their escape. It is believed that the firearm used in the shooting might have been illegally obtained.

Granger warns Police Chief about Impact Programme

Opposition Leader, David Granger has warned acting Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud about the possible backfiring of the Impact Programme if it is not done with the support of the communities.

Granger met with the recently-appointed acting Commissioner on Wednesday when he congratulated him on his new post and extended his support. “In a meeting that was reported to be cordial, the Opposition Leader urged the Top Cop to ensure that nothing is done to jeopardise public security,” a release from A Partnership from National Unity (APNU) stated.

During the visit, Granger and Persaud discussed the recently-established Impact Programme in Albouystown and Agricola.  The APNU Chairman told the Police Chief that while the intention behind these programmes is good, executing them without consultations with, and the support of, the communities can have negative consequences.

Granger further warned Persaud against the stigmatising of certain communities. Project Impact Albouystown was launched earlier this month by Persaud.  Police, in a release a few days ago, said that the response to the project has been overwhelming, and are optimistic that the initiative will create positive change in the community.

Mixed reactions

The Police Force had rejected some of the criticisms that have been levelled at its operations and presence in the crime-prone community, stating that it was encouraged by the developments since the project was launched. However, residents have been reporting harassment by the officers frequenting the streets of Albouystown. Police have said this accusation is false.

The Police Force maintained that a significant part of its efforts in the initiative is aimed at empowering Albouystown youths to develop skills to become productive and meaningful contributors to society. The Force also said it did expect some resistance from persons who are benefiting from crime.

During the courtesy visit, the Opposition Leader also told Persaud that he was aware of the state of the Police Force and encouraged him to do his best to improve this. He further informed the Police Chief that he was cognisant of the basic needs of the Force, citing the need for vehicles, boats and aircraft to counter narco-trafficking and gun running. Granger went on to highlight that he fully supports a better-paid, well-trained and properly-equipped Guyana Police Force. Granger was accompanied to the meeting by former Police Commissioner and APNU Shadow Minister for Public Security, Winston Felix.