St. Vincent and the Grenadines is up to date with payments to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Pharmaceutical Procurement Services (PPS), according to Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Luke Browne.

The OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Services (PPS), set up in 1986, is the official institution within the OECS that procures medicines and allied health equipment on behalf of Member States.

“I’m happy to report that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is currently in good standing with the OECS PPS. We are up to date with all our payments as of the end of June 2017,” the Health Minister said in parliament on Tuesday in response to a question from an opposition legislator.

“We recently received an invoice for the month of July for $981,601.98 which was appended to a letter dated August 11, 2017 which will be settled in a timely manner after the necessary checks have been completed,” he said.

On August 2, 2017, Mr. Francis Burnett, Head of Unit at the OECS/Pharmaceutical Procurement Service during his presentation at a seminar held at the Methodist Church Hall, in Kingstown, focused on updating the SVG Essential Medicines list, stated that St. Vincent and the Grenadines “is one of the worse defaulters of payment in the entire OECS countries” for medicines obtained.

But Minister Browne explained that “in 2017 to date St. Vincent and the Grenadines has made payments amounting to $3.43 million dollars in the settlement of all the invoices from January to June. This is already more than was spent for the whole of last year.”

He noted however that there are some areas that have been identified within the whole scheme of procurement, payments and general supplies management that needs to be improved, and he urged the management of the Central Medical Stores to be more efficient in their processing of good received notes in the satisfaction of Customs procedures and in the clearance of items once shipments have arrived at Port Kingstown.

He also stressed that care must be taken to ensure that nonessential medical items are not being purchased, and that there is no over prescribing of medications, or indulging in any other form of waste.

According to the Health Minister “it is currently more expedient for us to settle invoices that we receive in the latter months of the year by a lump sum payment towards the end of the year. This might cause our payments to have a longer lead time in some instances.”

Minister Browne said he recently asked Mr. Francis Burnett, Head of Unit at the OECS/PPS to provide officials here with a list of payable invoices by month including the invoices which are pending good received notes.

He said he’d also like to ask the OECS/PPS to see if they could secure discounts on a wider range of medical items since this country often has to directly purchase medicines and supplies that are not available through OECS/PPS arrangements.

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