Manufacturers concerned over situation at Food and Drug Dep’t – -call on Health Minister to act

The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) today expressed concerns that the absence of the Director from the Food and Drug Department may have had negative consequences on its ability to function.

The GMSA also said it has concerns about an arrangement for the importation of goods from the US state of Florida which is not working the way it should  and has resulted in “questionable items”, appearing on local shelves.

It called on the Minister of Health to ensure the compliance with rules, regulations and standards and to empower the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department to so do.

A statement from the GMSA follows:

The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) has been monitoring the recent developments at the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) and wishes to express its concerns.

The GA-FDD has a crucial role in maintaining the nation’s health and well-being through speaking directly as a regulatory body on the importation of food, drugs and other like materials into Guyana.

Over the last few years, the GA-FDD had made significant strides towards delivering on its mandate to the nation. The GMSA, through the Agro-Processing Sub-sector Chairman, indicated that there is a seeming lack of leadership as a result of the Director’s absence, which could call this quality reputation of GA-FDD into question, hinder progress and also raises concerns of transparency and accountability. The GMSA therefore wishes to urge that this department, which comes under the Ministry of Health, be empowered to carry out its mandate independently and effectively.

We also request that the relaxing of the rules mandated by law regarding the importation of food and other products into Guyana, be re-examined. The association has actively engaged with the Ministry of Health to review and relax said provisions made by law however, we are concerned that the agreement created which allows for the importation of items on the basis of documentation from a non-regulatory body in Florida, is not working as was initially intended since we continue to see questionable items imported into the country based on documentation from the said body in Florida.

While we are cognizant of the many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the issues associated with the global supply chain, we should not compromise on the nation’s health and well-being.

The Standards regarding the origin, labeling and naming of local distributors on labels where necessary is very clear, however, this standard is being flouted in some cases, while our sister Caricom countries rigidly enforce this. These actions are contradictory to the spirit of the recently passed Local Content Act.

The GMSA calls on the Minister to ensure the compliance of rules, regulations, and standards and to empower the GA-FDD to so do.