Governor Wanda Vázquez today referred to the unsuccessful $38 million purchase of tests for Covid-19 as a procedure that "went through like any other purchase [in the Department of Health],” and that “no one informed me that it had been unduly influenced.”
Regarding the purchase of one million overpriced tests, Vázquez defended himself, stating that "I could not put the health of the people of Puerto Rico at risk,” since they were going to be delivered, supposedly, within five days. The contractor, who had no experience in medical supplies, did not delivered the tests on time and the contract was cancelled.
Vázquez assured she had inquired from the officials involved in the transaction, if someone had “forced or induced them to do something wrong, because that person cannot be in my administration.”
The governor recalled that "what we wanted was to acquire the greatest number of tests. This first quote was received on March 20th from 313 LLC. It offered 100,000 rapid kit tests at $40 each. Later, and as part of the bidding process, Dr. Segundo Rodríguez Quilichini (coordinator of the government’s medical task force) received another [proposal] for one million tests.” That “proposal” was received via text message, and the proponent was allegedly referred to the Department of Health.
Vázquez showed the proposal document, which arrived on March 26, for the one million tests at a cost of $42 each, to be delivered in five days.
"Then there came an amended one [proposal], at $38, asking for a 50 percent advance,” Vázquez added.
She explained “the priority was to get a rapid test” and that the purchase was analyzed by eight people.
“We have emails, and no one has informed me that they had been improperly influenced. This the same procedure that is followed in all purchases. The procedure was followed like any other,” she insisted.
Vázquez then recalled that after five days the company, Apex General Contractors, had not comply with the terms of the contract, and was asked to return the advanced money.
“Today, that money is in the coffers of the people of Puerto Rico,” she assured.
In closing her press conference at the headquarters of the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (Nmead, for its Spanish acronym), and flanked by members of the government’s Medical Task Force on Covid-19, Vázquez welcomed any investigation related to her administration and insisted that the “enemy” is the coronavirus.