—RHO defends need for bond rental
— Councillors question transparency in the tendering process
Regional Health Officer (RHO) Dr. Gregory Harris, was called upon to defend the Regional Democratic Council’s expending of close to $1 M monthly, on the rental of a bond for the storage of medical supplies purchased for his office by the Ministry of Health. At the most recent statutory meeting, Regional Chairman Deron Adams, expressed concern about the RDC expending such a hefty sum monthly on the rental of a bond rather than the Ministry of Health taking on the cost. Concerns were also raised about the tendering process since the contract for rental was awarded to Alternative Contracting Enterprise located on Greenheart street and operated by an affiliate of the present administration.
In his response, the RHO said that the bond falls under the ambit of the RDC’s Health Department and not the ministry and that a storage facility was needed urgently to facilitate the purchasing of a large quantity of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for healthcare workers, following protestations from opposition members about the lack thereof. “The government took an initiative to purchase many PPE as possible, so as to protect all healthcare workers because at that time the opposition was complaining that healthcare workers don’t have sufficient PPE gears and I heard it mention here at this council that the hospitals and health centres do not have sufficient, so the government decided to invest billions of dollars so we can protect all our healthcare workers,” Harris said.
He explained that the only bond in the region is located under his office which was not sufficient, hence there was need to provide the space. At the time of the purchase, the contract had to be selectively tendered for three months, however after that period, the process went through the regional tendering board, was advertised as was awarded to Alternative Contracting Enterprise. Councillors however raised eyebrows that the same contractor was awarded the contract both times. They also expressed concern on what mechanisms were implemented to ensure the facility has reached the standard to store supplies for healthcare.
The RHO said the construction of a new bond was placed in the 2022 budget.