SERHA says selection of new hospital catering contractor above board

CHAIRMAN of the board of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) Wentworth Charles has rejected claims of ministerial interference in the award of a multimillion-dollar contract to Patsy Lyn Caterers (PLC) to provide dietary services to two major public health facilities.

According to Charles, while the information he has received so far indicates that due process was followed, he has requested a full report on the contract award process and expects to receive it by later this week.

Charles told journalist yesterday that information from the senior procurement Officer at SEHRA, Dwayne Bailey, is that all the procedural requirements were observed by the entity and approvals for the contract were granted by the various SERHA committees, the National Contracts Commission and the Cabinet.

“Apart from what I saw in a newspaper report, I have asked the person making the claim to give me particulars and I have not received it. I would have thought that if she had a complaint she would advise me of it so that it may be reviewed,” said Charles.

The SERHA chairman was responding to a letter written to the Integrity Commission by the principals of Elegant Weddings Event Planning and Catering Limited requesting a probe into the contract awarded to PLC.

In the letter to the commission, Elegant Weddings noted that on June 2 it was advised that a contract it had signed in 2018 to provide dietary services to the Kingston Public Hospital would be terminated, effective July 2.

The company claimed that the contract has since been awarded to PLC to provide dietary services to both the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH).

According to Elehant Weddings, there was no competitive bidding for the new contract and there was a breach in the Government’s procurement procedures in the decision by SERHA to issue the contract using the single source method.

But SERHA has argued that the contract was put to tender three times and advertised, but several applicants failed to meet the criteria.

It said on the third occasion when the contract was put to tender PLC was selected as the preferred bidder.

Yesterday, PLC officials said they were deeply disappointed by the false allegations made by Elegant Weddings as there was nothing unethical or nefarious in the means to obtain the contract to provide dietary services to two hospitals.

PLC also dismissed the suggestion “that nepotistic external influence resulted in the contract award”.

According to PLC, before this issue arose it shared a cordial corporate relationship with the management of Elegant Weddings, as the two companies had contracts for the provision of dietary services at the neighbouring VJH and KPH, respectively.

“PLC is an established catering company which has been serving the people of Jamaica since 1974. The company has been the recipient of contracts across several administrations.

“The public should also be aware that PLC currently runs several concessions for large private companies. PLC has never needed or sought political assistance in the award of any contract, including the contract in issue, and has always relied on its reputation of high-quality food and service to speak for itself,” an official of the company told the Jamaica Observer.

“PLC remains committed to the highest standards of probity and accountability, and we are certain that any scrutiny of the process will undoubtedly clear our name and restore any damage this malicious allegation proposes to inflict,” added the company official.





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