ANSA McAL gets $515 M in sweetheart deal
government is sweeping aside all criticisms of the scandalous drug deal with ANSA MsAL and has agreed to pay the company $515.1 million.
The Public Procurement Commission had investigated the matter and found that the country’s laws were broken in acquiring emergency pharmaceutical supplies for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
A probe done by the Board of GPHC said the CEO of that company acted “recklessly” in procuring the supplies.
These revelations have not deterred the Cabinet from approving payment to ANSA McAL.
Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence, has been accused by the opposition PPP of knowingly approving and fast tracking the transaction, an accusation which she has denied.
The initial sum demanded by ANSA McAL, a Trinidadian firm, was $632 million but this was reduced.
It was also found that some of the drugs under this arrangement cannot be deemed as “emergency supplies” and raised more public suspicion as the reason for what some considered to be a sweetheart deal.
ANSA McAL recently constructed an arch over the East Coast public road, on the outer perimeter of the city, with the presidential cacique crown on top of it. The occasion was the independence anniversary of the Republic. It was fully financed by ANSA McAL.
The Opposition is leaving the matter like that and will be bringing the mater up in the National Assembly.
PPP Assemblyman and former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, recently posited that the Cabinet cannot legitimize an illegality. In an article published last week he stated:
It ought to be clear that this cabinet decision relates to the controversial and unlawful procurement of drugs, contrary to and in breach of the Procurement Act, by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) from Ansa McAl to the tune of $515,178,268. It is imperative that this document be scrutinized to appreciate its various levels of deception and sophistry.
1 Based upon the content of the document, it is clear that this matter was first considered by cabinet on a previous occasion and transmitted to a cabinet sub-committee for consideration.
2 It was considered by that sub-committee and returned to cabinet for cabinet to stamp it with some form of imprimatur/legitimacy.
3 It is clear that cabinet did so, using remarkably vague language.
4 It should be observed that cabinet scrupulously avoided the use of the word ‘approved’ in respect of the report which emanated from its sub-committee, which is the normal parlance used by cabinet in such circumstances. 5 It should also be observed that the Minister of Finance did not seek cabinet’s approval; instead, he brought it for cabinet to “note”, so it was brought for cabinet’s ‘notification’ and not ‘approval.’
It is public knowledge that the total value of the contract for drugs unlawfully procured from Ansa McAl is $605,962,200. My information is that $90,783,932 was already paid to Ansa McAl by a previous cabinet deci- sion. This was clearly done when the controversy did not reach the gigantic proportions to which it eventually exploded. I surmise that cabinet found itself in a conundrum after the controversy erupted and especially when the matter was transmitted to the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) for investigation. The problem was further compounded because despite the internal wrangling which is emerging from the PPC in terms of who should be held responsible for the violations of the Procurement Act, it is abundantly clear that there is a unanimous finding by that commission that the Procurement Act was breached. I have expressed the view already, which I reiterate now, that no minister of the government or the cabinet has the authority to waive or authorize the waiver of the Procurement Act in respect of any transaction to which it applies.
Recognizing that he is being faced with a fait accompli of an unlawful transaction which has already taken place, the Minister of Finance, by this instrument, is now seeking coverage from cabinet before he authorizes payment of $515,178,268 to Ansa McAl. It is obvious that this sum would have to be withdrawn by the Minister of Finance from the Contingency Funds, for which he will later seek the approval of the National Assembly. Minister Jordan and the cabinet are obviously protecting themselves and are obviously invoking the principle of collective responsibility of cabinet in respect of authorizing an obviously unlawful payment. Unfortunately, for this government, a cabinet decision cannot legitimize an illegality.