50,000 rapid tests X $8.40 = $2,000,000

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A San Pedro Based company, SMVNF Investments LTD. has made a handsome some for the acquisition of 50,000 Covid-19 rapid tests for the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It is a contract that has raised multiple questions on whether or not the Ministry of Health and Wellness is getting value for money.
Based on our research, Unicef’s Supply catalogue lists a kit of 25 tests at USD$105.00 worked down to single tests at a mere USD$4.20. That’s BZ$8.40 per test. Based on simple mathematics, at acquisition, the cost of the tests should be in the region of BZ$420,000. That is actually a fraction of the $2 million that was paid.
When questioned about the contract, Prime Minister, Johnny Briceño categorically stated that he did not know about the contract and how that could have happened. Following suit was the Minister of Health and Wellness, Michel Chebat, who also distanced himself from the transaction, also claiming ignorance.
It is interesting that these gentlemen would take such a position given the fact that one of the principals of SMVNF Investments is Sean Feinstein who is the Chairman and CEO of SMVNF and is a member of the Briceño administration’s Economic Recovery Advisory Team.
The looming question however, is why did the government not seek the tests themselves but instead chose to go with a middleman?
This single transaction has cost the Belizean tax payers an additional $1.5 million when the government keeps on harping that the government does not have any money. It is interesting to note that the additional money blown in this single transaction could have been used for many Covid-19 relief efforts including either the acquisition of vaccines, more tests or even for grocery bag assistance or even financial relief.
It has been a mere three months into the Briceño administration and we are now seeing this type of gross abuse of public finances. The Belizean taxpayer will definitely not be able to bear this burden for five long years.