THE $1M monthly rental owed for the use of the bond at Farm, which is owned by the New GPC, would not have occurred had the construction of the new medical bond or Materials Management Unit (MMU) been completed and handed over on time by the contractor, Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsaran said.
He pointed out that the initial due date of the facility’s handing over was early last year; however, there were several shifts in its delivery. In light of that, the ministry is working along with the contractor to accelerate the facility’s completion.
As of last November, there began a gradual move of materials from the Farm facility to the government bond at Diamond; hence, the ministry is no longer utilising the services of the Farm facility.
“There continues to be mischief in the newspapers concerning the allegation that the Ministry of Health has been paying excessive rent to a certain private sector entity,” the minister stated.
Having recognised the need for adequate and effective storage space of medical supplies, the government invested in the construction of the bond at Diamond since the previous MMU located in Mud Flats, Kingston, had become unsuitable.
Minister Ramsaran highlighted that the ministry has several locations where it carries out its business of storing and managing medication and medical supplies, two of these being at bonds owned by New GPC at Farm and Ruimveldt. No rent is being paid for the use of the latter.
The minister pointed out that the bond at Farm was being rented by SCMS using monies of the American government. “Those monies have to be accounted for meticulously. The Government of Guyana cannot lay its hands on those monies… the Ministry of Health(MOH) cannot lay its hands on those monies,” he said.
Minister Ramsaran explained that SCMS paid rent for that facility (at Farm) up to July last year. “SCMS was expected to have stopped renting that bond for some time because the Ministry of Health had expected to gain receipt long before then, of the new bond which is located at Diamond….since that did not happen, SCMS had to continue pushing forward the date when it continued to pay rent,” he said.
The minister noted that due to continuous shuffling of the completion date of the bond at Diamond, SCMS could no longer continue footing the burden of paying the rent at Farm, which was fairly modest considering the type of facility.
“When they could not continue footing the bill because they did not have money for that, the Ministry of Health undertook to pay the rent to New GPC,” Minister Ramsaran stated.
The ministry was expecting the contractor to hand over the building soon after; however that was done almost five months later, in November 2012.
“This meant the MOH had committed to paying the new GPC the rent that they were receiving from SCMS… I had specifically consulted my accounts department to find out if we had the money to do it. I discovered following recent claims by new GPC and continuous repetition, that it had never received money from the ministry for rental… that indeed we had honoured that agreement in the breach and the MOH has not been paying the rent for the Farm facility which we were supposed to be paying,” Minister Ramsaran disclosed.
The minister expressed appreciation to the owner of the New GPC for continuing to allow the Health Ministry to use the bond at Ruimveldt at no cost, since 2008.