Express Editorial : Daily

If Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is to be believed, then where are the 351,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine that the government had the chance and, according to him, the money to buy on February 19?

This is the question that hangs over the dust that has been kicked up by the conflicting reports of the Government/ANSA McAL vaccine deal which apparently fell through when the conglomerate requested a tax credit against its US$8.4 million “donation” towards the purchase of the Pfizer vaccines.

In the Senate yesterday, Minister Deyalsingh disputed the claim by ANSA McAL’s chief executive Anthony Sabga III that the company was approached on February 18 by Deyalsingh and senior Health Ministry officials with a request for a “contribution” towards the purchase of the vaccines costing US$8.4 million (roughly TT$58 million). “They ­volunteered,” he countered.

According to Sabga, however, the ministry came with an urgent ­request since the order had to be confirmed by the next day. After an emergency meeting, he said, the ANSA McAL board agreed to make the money available on two conditions. The Government would have to provide the USD equivalent and the contribution must be credited against taxes payable by the conglomerate for the income year 2021.

Although Sabga and Deyalsingh have both skirted the issue, it would appear that the Government decided not to pursue the matter with ANSA McAL. Presumably, to use the term popularised by the Prime Minister, the Government was “begging” for a donation but instead got what was effectively a loan to be paid back through a tax credit. The public knows the tax credit was the sticking issue because Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told the nation so last Thursday when he shamed-without-naming a conglomerate whose “offer” was rejected because of foreign exchange and tax write-off conditions.

The varying versions of how this deal went down by the Prime Minister, the ANSA McAL CEO and the Health Minister provide plenty room for questions and juicy speculation. However, these should not distract us from the key issue that on February 19, this country had an opportunity to acquire 351,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine and did not do so. The explanation for this disaster is not the responsibility of ANSA McAL but of the Prime Minister and his Health Minister.

In the senate yesterday, Minister Deyalsingh all but boasted that the government was always in a position to pay for the vaccines, which raises the question of why it had not immediately done so when it found ANSA McAL’s conditions too onerous to accept.

In accounting for this missed opportunity to give 351,000 persons single-dose protection against Covid-19 or full two-dose protection to 175,500 persons, we would expect the PM or Minister Deyalsingh to present the public with written confirmation from Pfizer that the country did indeed have the stated allocation pending payment by February 19. Assuming the Government can provide that, it should then explain exactly what happened after ANSA McAL stated its conditions resulting in it not pursuing the purchase.

This is a case for facts, not for the distraction of political red ­herrings.


For months this newspaper has been urging the Ministry of Health to initiate a vaccine awareness campaign based on a scientific ­survey of public attitudes in preparation for its arrival.

An article dated March 15, 2021, on listed 21 countries that had suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, mainly due to blood-clotting concerns.

In spite of the best efforts of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and former national security minister Stuart Young, crime continues to be the number one enemy of people and country.

In my humble view, the continuing fight against criminals requires the intervention of level-headed, objective and bipartisan professionals. As such, I was grossly disappointed with the appointment of Fitzgerald Hinds as the new Minister of National Security, and could see no advantage in this move.

A quick search for the meaning of this crime turned up the following opening definition: human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.

There is so much to be gleaned from the Opposition Leader’s backhanded tribute to recently deceased Minister Franklin Khan on Monday night.

It speaks not only to her character, but to that of the political party she leads as well. As the saying goes: “If you listen carefully enough, someone will tell you exactly the kind of person they are.”

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un... “Surely we belong to Almighty God and Him shall we return”.

Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) is deeply saddened by the death of the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Senator the Honourable Franklin Khan, Member of Parliament for Ortoire-Mayaro, and chairman of the ruling People’s National Movement.