Davlin Thomas

Anna-Lisa Paul and

Shaliza Hassanali

North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) CEO Davlin Thomas says he has become the target of a political smear campaign in which his professional image and character are being tarnished in a bid to discredit him.

He made the comment yesterday as he responded to the circulation on social media of a $500,000 rental quotation for two 40×40 tents at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mt Hope, for 30 days. Thomas said the document was “only a quotation” and not what the regional authority had paid for with taxpayers’ money.

Yesterday, Jeffrey Lake, operations manager of Rickel Services Ltd, the company from which the tents were rented, said the NCRHA obtained the tents at a reduced price to fit their budgetary allocation. He said their Santa Cruz-based company was targeted because everybody felt the Government was spending money badly but said he had nothing to hide and some people were making mischief.

According to the first quotation prepared by Rickel Services, dated March 17, the two marquee tents were each quoted at $8,000 per day for 30 days, amounting to $480,000 plus a $1,000 transportation fee. Included in the cost was Value Added Tax of $60,125, bringing the total to $541,125.

A second quotation, dated March 28, listed the cost of one 40 by 40 aluminium structure tent at $2,900 per day for 15 days with transportation included at a total of $43,500. With a sales tax of $5,437.50, the final figure billed to the NCRHA was $48,937.50. For the month the NCRHA utilised the tent at the second quotation, they were billed for $97,875.

Yesterday, Thomas said the NCRHA had decided to go with the second quotation and would only be paying that bill. He denied there was any attempt by anyone to defraud the NCRHA, noting that multiple quotations are often submitted for services and equipment prior to any decision being taken.

Pressed to say how the initial quotation was over $500,000, Thomas said it was for a “huge monstrosity of a steel structure complete with lights, that we just weren’t interested in at all.”

“We just wanted some smaller marquee tents to house (EWMSC) patients for triaging,” Thomas said.

He said the cost of this was around $2,000 per day and the NCRHA got a discount on the final costing.

Thomas, who is the People’s National Movement’s campaign manager for Barataria-San Juan, claimed this was another act of political mischief by an individual he did not name.

“I am going to engage the person at the highest level of the court. It is political mischief and I am being targeted.”

Meanwhile, Rickel Services’ Lake said the $541,000 quotation plastered on Facebook was designed to mislead the public, as it was not the final figure paid.

“So this $8,000, as I said to you, was an original (quotation) …. they (NCRHA) did not know their budget. I give them what our list price was. They (NCRHA) came back to me and said ‘hey, buddy I cannot afford that.’”

He said the company later submitted two revised quotations – one on March 28 and on April 13 at a reduced price.

“We reduced it drastically because of the cause of coronavirus…the panic. At the end of the day, this is us saying take it (tent) for $2,900 (a day). That is what they could have afforded, why should I say no?”

He said the company downsized a modular 100×40 tent to a 40×40 tent to suit the NCRHA’s needs. Initially, Lake said the NCRHA wanted to buy the tent. In the first quotation, he said they informed the NCRHA they only rent items.

“There was absolutely no overpricing. It (tent) was actually underpriced. I have nothing to hide. It’s a political thing …. we are just the scapegoat. Total mischief. I am not sure it is our name but we got tied up in the mix … because everybody somehow feels the Government spending money bad. I am okay. We can defend what we have,” Lake said.

He noted that they are yet to be paid by the NCRHA, who has been one of their clients since they started operations in 2015. The tent was removed from the compound of the EWMSC on Monday.