Was the Belize Dry Cleaners Limited jilted by the Ministry of Health?
The Minister of Health has weighed on his ministry’s decision to resubmit the tender for the bid to provide laundry services for the regional and community hospitals. Last Friday, the ministry announced that it was seeking a provider to take on the laundry services of the regional hospitals in Orange Walk, Belmopan, and Dangriga. The contract was previously provided by Belize Dry Cleaners Limited, and the company felt that their most recent bid, which was the lowest, would have been chosen by the ministry. But, the company only received an extension and is now in competition with two other providers, which reportedly are not yet fully operational. The company claims that its facility is more equipped to provide the services and feels it is being jilted. However; Health Minister, Kevin Bernard, denies those claims and says the ministry was forced to resubmit the tender after it mistakenly omitted key criteria.
Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “I’ve heard all kinds of stories, whether or not it’s because we’re trying to get Mr.Lascelle out of the business and so forth, I have no idea who are the people that are going to be tendering or whatever interest they have that’s not my business. My responsibility as the Minister of Health is to ensure that there is fairness, there is equity and that there is competition and that is what I am doing because I want to ensure that we cannot – this is my personal view- we cannot continue to burden our systems with only one person service provider it becomes a monopoly. We need to start to see where competition can bring down prices, where competition can offer better services. Now yes maybe Mr.Lascelle has had the experience of the years but just as he came into this business a few years back there are others who are entering the same business and they have all right as a Belizean, as a business owner to tender. Will they get it ? We don’t know the committee will have to decide that based on the justification laid out in the tender bid document. Like I said Mr.Lascelle Arnold – we can’t talk about that bid, that bid was given an extension so we did not approve that specific bid an extension was given to Mr.Lascelle in order for us to rebid so we can’t talk about whether he won that bid or not nobody won the bid. So the new bid will be put out and then when that new bid comes back once we put out those bids and whoever submits and after it goes through the tender process and goes through the committee and makes sure that all the dots and I’s are crossed then if Mr.Lascelle wins the bid then so be it, it is not a matter of whether he was the lowest price or not we’re looking at all angles and a bid is not just necessarily because you get the lowest price because I could tell you this for years he has been providing a service at a far higher amount, inflation all of these are but yes he was able to floor the price so what has he been doing over the past years? Creaming at the top ? I will leave that there.”
Minister Bernard further explained that the ministry’s technical team was the entity that adjusted the tender they felt was in the best interest of the hospitals.
Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “There’s a lot of issues, it’s not just quality, it’s not just price it’s quality we’re looking at better service, we’re looking at all kinds of things but at the end of the day like I said the whole purpose of us to put out these things to tender is to ensure that one there’s fairness and equity. It’s just like when we put out our tenders for the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies vast amount of people can tender but we need to then make sure that the right business gets it but the one that will provide quality service delivery and all that. Now I’m not saying that Mr.Lascelle is not par to those things I’m not disputing either that he has done a service to the Belizean people in fact I think Mr.Lascelle won the bid for KHMH, KHMH they did their own laundry bid and I think he won the bid for KHMH what we are putting out is the bid for the Ministry services. When they drafted these instructions there was an oversight of certain things and not necessarily mean that all these things that are set out in the bidding instructions are strict measures that have to be put in place. So when they looked at the needs for the tender the technical people felt that this is what they want and this is why they retendered the whole process. I cannot answer to that part I leave those things to the technical people to decide.”