Details are beginning to emerge about a possible “sales war” among persons associated with the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell on the importation of Test kits for the coronavirus pandemic.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that the bitter stand-off involves the operators of a pharmacy with powerful links to the hierarchy of the governing party and a medical facility in which a senior member of the Cabinet reportedly has financial interest.
A source who is familiar with the issue said that the owners of the pharmacy, located in the parish of St. George, saw an opportunity to import test kits to make a profit for the business but apparently ran into difficulties allegedly from the actions of the other competing side.
He said that the medical facility involving the senior government minister is being accused of engaging in surreptitious actions to block the entry of the test kits from the pharmacy in order to seek a monetary advantage on the local market for the sale of the product.
According to the source, the operators of the pharmacy after waiting for weeks felt that something was wrong with their shipment as the tracking number indicated that it should already be on the island for delivery to them.
Speculation is rife that the shipment of coronavirus test kits were lying in some place on the island and had not even attracted the attention of the Customs Department which is the government body responsible for charging duties on behalf of the State on imported items.
However, a reliable source said that the test kits were never retrieved by the pharmacy and that it might have been stolen for use by someone else during the course of the limited State of Emergency imposed by the Keith Mitchell-led government to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The source said that the battle between the two NNP factions to get an advantage on the local market for the product had escalated to the point of one of the parties using his close ties with a “secret society” on the island to attempt to take punitive action against the other competing side.
He spoke of the pharmacy owner operating in an establishment that is controlled by a high-up figure in the “secret society”.
This individual is also known to be a major financier of the NNP in general election.
The source said: ‘The thing got real nasty. The (name withheld) is a big man in the (secret society) and was using his partner in the (secret society) to deal with the other man for him. It boiled down to one (secret society man) trying to get his brother to deal with someone who was going against another (secret society man)”.
“The message is clear that if you go against one brother in (the secret society) the other brother will have to come to his assistance in a time of need. It’s about one brother supporting another brother (in the secret society),” he added.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the operator of the Medical facility involving the government minister is poised to become a “Grandmaster” of the “secret society” as replacement for a senior figure in the organisation who died a few years ago.
The source told this newspaper that the issue has not been resolved and could end up before the local courts as some of those involved in bringing in the shipment of test kits want to recover their financial losses.
Speculation is rife that the issue of the “missing test kits” could have been raised at the highest level of government as one party is known to have close ties to the head of the regime.
One local health facility was recently advertising that it had test kits to assist people in the coronavirus pandemic situation in Grenada.
THE NEW TODAY had approached the Pharmacy operator on Tuesday evening in connection with the issue and he promised to get back either later in the night or the following day but he did not.
In light of the situation, the following questions were sent to him via whatsapp for answers and he still did not respond at the time of our publication:-
(1) Can you confirm reports reaching us that your business did import coronavirus test kits in Grenada and that attempts were made to interfere with its importation for sale to the public?
(2) Can you say when did you place the order for these test kits, where was its origin, and whether it ever came into Grenada?
(3) Have you received your tests kits? If you did when did you get your items?
(4) Did your establishment raise the issue of the test kits with powerful figures in the current government?
(5) How many of the Rapid test kits you brought in?
THE NEW TODAY has seen the copy of a letter which seems to suggest that the Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Francis Martin has gotten involved in the issue.
Dr. Martin has sent a letter to the Grenada Medical Association (GMA), Dr. Rachael George-St. Bernard which purports to ban the use of certain kinds of Rapid Tests and warning pharmacies that they cannot import the product, which may now give a clear advantage to the medical facility involving the Cabinet Minister.
Following is the full text of the letter: