More alleged victimization by Food and Drugs
Days after a number of importers picketed the Ministry of the Presidency and the Ministry of Public Health over delays in their containers, one of them is claiming more victimization.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sueria Manufacturing Inc., Frank Sanichara, said Saturday that the Government AnalystFood and Drug Department (GA-FDD) is unable to find documents for a shipment of Shakura Energy that his company has brought in.
The Ministry of Public Health, under which the Food and Drugs Department falls, had announced an investigation in the allegations of discriminations by the head of that entity, Marlan Cole. Government officials and others have said that they have been receiving complaints.
Sueria and several other importers from Demerara and Berbice are protesting what they say is an abuse of office by Cole. It is not the first time Cole is in trouble. He was sent home earlier this year over an alleged incident but later turned back out on the job. The importers are claiming that they are being singled out. Sueria has the distributions rights to several popular products, including Shakura Energy Drinks. The shipments that have been held up by Food and Drugs are several consignments of products including Shakura Energy Drink. In the case of Sueria, Sanichara is a businessman who returned home to invest and has plugged hundreds of millions of dollars in manufacturing of sweets and importation of juices. He has been battling Food and Drugs for almost a year now.
The juice importation business is a highly competitive one with a number of large companies involved. Saturday , the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) said in a statement that it is “deeply concerned” about the recent accusations being made against Cole in the form of a public protest.
The certificates referred to by GMSA have indeed been in contention. Sanichara had made it clear that his company and others have been complying but Cole and the department have been asking for more paperwork.
“So we buy a quantity of juices from a manufacturer and pack these in different containers. Food and Drugs wants certificates for each and every container. We are not sure what else to do”, said Sanichara. All documents required by the law were submitted to Cole, including Free Sale Certificates.
According to GMSA, in the absence of an accredited lab and phyto-sanitary enforcement and anti-dumping legislation it is extremely important that the G-FDD perform its duties unimpeded. Sanichara said last week that his company lost over $30M and was forced to send home staffers because of the delays and disruptions caused by Cole and his department. On Thursday, Health Minister, Dr. George Norton, said that he is taking the allegations against Cole very seriously and that there will be no sacred cows and no victimizations of businesses under the administration.
Ahead of Wednesday’s picket, Sanichara said that he had written to President David Granger to amplify his concerns with the Food and Drug Department. He said that he had previously written to the Ministers of Business and Public Health, but it was not until he wrote to the President that he was contacted on the matter.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon, on Thursday corroborated reports that an investigation into the matter was underway. Minister Norton said that acting on the instructions of the president, he had made contact with Sanichara to inform him that his Ministry, which has responsibility for the Food and Drug Department, was in the process of examining the complaints. Minister Norton said that he intimated to Sanichara that he will be invited, along with Cole, to attend a meeting aimed at reaching a solution to the situation.