Norton apologises to Parliament 2 months later

first_img…regrets inaccurately saying NEW GPC was paid to store drugs during the pre-qualification periodMore than two months after he was found to have misled the National Assembly, Minister of Public Health, Dr George Norton has finally apologised to the House over his remarks which had purported that Government had paid the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) in excess of $19 million for the storage of drugs and medical supplies.Public Health Minister, Dr George NortonA repentant Public Health Minister 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 and convened on Thursday.The apology was however informally rejected by sections of the political opposition, some of whom heckled that he was in fact encouraged by Prime Minister, Moses Nagamotoo to make the misleading statements, in addition to offering a ‘Donald Trump’ apologyIn offering his apologies, Dr Norton told the House, “as Minister of Public Health, I know the high standard of duty and care expected of me and the staff of Ministry, I take fully the responsibility for this unfortunate episode and give my full commitment that it will not re-occur.”Recalling the genesis of the sordid state of affairs—for which the political opposition had threatened sanctions—Dr Norton drew reference to the House’s consideration of the Financial Papers on Monday 8 August, 2016, where he was questioned extensively by the political opposition.According to the Public Health Minster, “in the process I gave answers that were in some parts based on personal knowledge and ability and in other parts based on information and advice presented to me.”He conceded that “since that day I have come to the firm position that the answers given to two questions relating to the payment to NEW GPC and for the storage of drugs in the bond at 29 Sussex Street were not accurate, as these were based on information supplied to me.”Following the inaccurate disclosures by Dr Norton, it was revealed that the ministry did not pay NEW GPC one cent for the storage of drugs and medical supplies during the pre-qualification period.Dr Norton had also told the House that the ministry at the time had already begun utilising the Sussex Street building the Ministry was renting for in excess of $12.5M monthly, but this turned out not to be the case, since the building had not been completed at the time.That Sussex Street, Georgetown, building was discovered to be owned by Linden Holding Inc, whose principal was one of the coalition Government’s key financiers, Larry Singh, and was further not deemed to be adequate for the storage of the nation’s drugs and medical supplies.Head of State David Granger subsequently ordered an investigation of the transaction by a Cabinet Sub-committee which found that the contract should in fact be renegotiated since the rental fee was deemed to be too high, in addition to other concerns raised.Minister Norton in appealing to the National Assembly said in the circumstances he wishes to “express my sincere and profound regret…”last_img read more