first_imgMisleading ParliamentPublic Health Minister Dr George Norton has been committed to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges for misleading the National Assembly in August last when he was grilled by Opposition members over a contract that had been inked with Linden Holding Inc for the storage of drugs and medical supplies.Public Health Minister Dr George NortonSpeaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, informed the House that he believes that a prima facie case has been made out against the Minister and as a result, ordered that the matter be dealt with at the Committee of Privileges.The matter was presented to the House in a motion submitted by Opposition Parliamentarian Dr Frank Anthony and seconded by Chief Whip Gail Teixeira.In presenting the motion to the House, Dr Anthony recalled that during the August 8, 2016, sitting of the National Assembly during consideration of Financial Papers, Dr Norton deliberately misled the House with regards to the rental of a Sussex Street property.Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton ScotlandDr Anthony told the House that the Public Health Minister misinformed the House when he said the reason no procurement process was followed in acquiring the facility was because it was required on an emergency basis.Dr Anthony charged too that the minister also misled the House when he said that the Sussex Street property did in fact meet with International Standards and that drugs and medical supplies were already being stored there.The minister has already issued a public apology conceding that he had in fact erred in his responses to the House at the time.The minister, according to Dr Anthony, had charged that the rental of the Sussex Street property was in fact a cheaper option over a bond owned by New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation.Dr Anthony reminded the House that the NEW GPC facility was in fact provided free of cost during the tenure of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration.The Opposition member recalled too that Dr Norton had misinformed the House when he said that the cost of renting the NEW GPC facility was for $19 million.According to Dr Anthony, “The Minister in doing so deliberately attempted to justify the cost of the rental for the Sussex Street property owned by the Linden Holding Company at $12.5 million per month and in doing so misinformed the House.”The Opposition MP recalled too that the contents of the multi-year contract with Linden Holding Inc have in fact contradicted the statements made by the minister in the National Assembly.He used the occasion to remind that the contract was in fact for a professional office and not a bond.The contract, according to Dr Anthony, “does not stipulate anything about the provision of facilities to meet the requirements for the storage of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.”The brouhaha that erupted following the disclosure had led to President David Granger establishing a Cabinet Subcommittee to investigate the matter.That committee had concluded that the contract should be terminated or re-negotiated since a similar facility could have been found at a cheaper rate.Guyana Times had managed to garner more in-depth information – from a reliable source – of the Confidential Cabinet Report that was handed to President Granger in August 2016, for his Executive Action.In the report, the Cabinet Subcommittee found that—contrary to earlier pronouncements by Government spokespersons—the value of the lease with Linden Holding Inc should be reassessed, as it is likely that a similar facility could be obtained at a lower rate.Dr Norton at the time told Parliament that the building was in fact already being used by the Ministry of Public Health to store drugs and medical supplies.This publication was told that under examination by the Cabinet Subcommittee, Minister Norton said his statement was based on the reliance of the information provided to him by the ministry officials “to the effect that the bond was ready and in use.”In mid-October, more than two months after he was found to have misled the National Assembly, Dr Norton apologised to the House over his misleading remarks.Norton used the occasion of ‘Statements by a Minister’ to offer the apology to the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and other members of the National Assembly when the House came out of its annual recess.The apology was however informally rejected by sections of the political Opposition.last_img

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