Sir John Defends Borneo

Finance Minister, Sir John Pundari, the man behind the Public Accounts Committee investigations against the Borneo Pharmaceutical contract has defended that the company was cleared and found not guilty of the charges.

Sir John said the failure of the Health Department was the reason the company was getting bashed up unnecessarily.

He said the PAC report was clear, the Committee observed the second point of the recommendations particularly the part that states that there has been “no evidence of poor performance.

“There were no formal complaints or evidence provided to National Procurement Committee or the Central Supply and Tenders Board by medical professionals, facilities or pharmacies that would question the awarding of the contract.” 

The Committee also found that Borneo Pacific had significant outstanding payments to the value of K73 million at the time of the Inquiry. Of this amount, K40 million had been outstanding since 2017.

To accumulate K73 million in unpaid claims over two years, and continue to supply on contracts is unheard of in today’s business world. Only few companies have the capacity to deliver under such conditions. 

“And you see, with the lack of a better current alternative, the committee found the Health Department’s argument to retain Borneo Pacific justifiable and found no irregularity in the tender process and deemed the contract awarded to Borneo Pacific in 2019 justifiable.

 “Let us get this straight, these are two different issues, one is the PAC report and the other is the 100 per cent health kits contract,” Sir John said.

 He said the failure of the Health Department was to get out there and do the right thing and to tender and get a new contract.

“They have been sitting on it, now we are pushed to the wall, we gave Borneo another 12 months because we don’t want our people to die due to lack of medicines and drugs in the hospitals that is a responsible government’s decision,” Sir John said.

He said Borneo as a corporate citizen and as any corporate citizens would do, they tendered, everything was filtered through the lawful procurement system, and they won the contract.

 “If anyone wants to question me, then you have to question the system, it was the system that gave the contract to Borneo.

“Borneo did not steal it from us, they gave it through our long-term process and legal system. The only way you will get around Borneo is to have some factual evidence that establishes a controversy.

 “Borneo tendered for what we wanted and they are delivering what we ask for, they are not imposing on us, what they want, they are basically supplying what we asked for so nothing more so the recent contract is legit.

 Sir John said the recent contract is to do with what may have stopped and reviewed or retendered and the need for drugs again.

“We’re giving them a one year instead and therefore the NDoH has to get their acts together.

 “I am grateful for what is happening now because as a result of this, they can now go to my report, look at my recommendations and start acting on the recommendations. This is the only way that they will be able to see an accountable future, as far as procurement of drugs and distribution of medical supplies is concerned.”

He said: “Borneo is just one of the many drug suppliers in the country, there are Indian drug suppliers here, CPL you can argue that. Aside from CPL there are Indian companies, RH supplies medicines, but when Borneo is not in the picture, we’re not bringing in these medical kits into the country.

“These emergency drugs are more than what we pay on a normal, 400 to 300 more than what Borneo is bringing into the country, this is where it is really killing us!

Borneo Pacific Pharmaceutical has remained concerned for PNG’s health system and continued to supply medicinal drugs when the government was not paying them.

 “Even when the government was not paying Borneo, for the love of the country Borneo continued to bring in medical kits. If they were never pushed to the medical centres, it was because of the Health Departments weaknesses and their monitoring compliance of logistics companies, who failed to take these drugs to the districts and provinces,” Sir John said.

He said everything has nothing to do with Borneo and the attack on Borneo is just a cover up of the logistics companies engaged by NDOH.

“About 400 per cent mark up on the back of our people’s health, that is where our problem is, and that is where cumulatively more than Borneo’s contract – you let this contract run, these emergency suppliers will suffer.”

 Sir John singled out that the PAC report had nothing against Borneo and instead had recommendations, which included:

  • A National Pharmaceutical Authority be established and be responsible for the procurement and oversight of the supply and distribution of medicines and medical equipment in the country
  • Create a division within the Pharmaceutical Authority that is specifically responsible for Medicine Safety, Regulation, Licencing and Testing
  • A centralized distribution system led by Post PNG
  • Control every medicine and drug entering the country ensuring that they all pass through a single-entry point
  • Control every medicine and drug entering the country ensuring that they all pass through a single-entry point
  • A centralized distribution system
  • Price of medicines and drugs should be controlled by GoPNG
  • Construct a central facility to pack and warehouse medicines
  • Commence testing in the National Drug Testing Laboratory immediately
  • Promote the UPNG Medical Faculty into a standalone university and build more nursing colleges that can also train pharmacists
  • Involve our development partners in a more centralized system
  • GoPNG should consider procuring all medicines on behalf of Pharmacies
  • Subsidise medicines for public health from private proceeds
  • The Christian Churches must be engaged and supported more by GoPNG
  • A partnership with church missions to run government health facilities in the country.
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