At today’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, alarming malpractices were brought to light regarding the procurement of medical supplies by the Regional Administration of Region Five. The revelations which are outlined in the 2019 Auditor General report, paint a concerning picture of financial mismanagement and potential corruption within the regional health sector.

During the session, Minister of Public Works and PAC Committee Member, Juan Edghill raised a critical issue highlighted in the Auditor General’s report. The examination of 33 payment vouchers for drugs and medical supplies, totaling a staggering $37.4 million, uncovered a shocking discrepancy: 31 instances where the bill date preceded the requisition for purchase date. This he said, indicated a disturbing trend where drugs were supplied to the region even before the official indication of need from the regional administration.

Furthermore, the Auditor General’s findings revealed additional irregularities, including 22 instances totaling $22.9 million where payment vouchers lacked the essential “paid” stamp. This oversight opened the door to potential duplicate payments and raises serious questions about financial accountability and control mechanisms within the regional administration, according to Edghill.

“Then we had photocopied bills were attached to two payment vouchers totalling $174,000. The authenticity of these bills could not be determined. In addition it could not be determined whether the transaction represented duplicate payments,” he noted. He also disclosed that these matters were all to be clarified since a previous PAC meeting, but no answer could be given then, hence the issue was brought up again.

Former Regional Executive Officer (REO), Ovid Morrison, when questioned about these discrepancies, failed to provide satisfactory answers. Despite being pressed for clarification, Morrison’s responses were evasive, with claims of memory lapses and lack of recollection regarding requests for investigation.

Ms. Genevieve Blackman, the former REO after Morrison, was also called upon to provide insight into the matter. However, her responses fell short of expectations, as she could only provide a list of instances without offering explanations for the irregularities.

“So we have the list of the 31 instances in writing here but I can’t say why but I can only read out what actually happened,” she said.

The committee stressed that the failure to properly account for expenditures and ensure adherence to procurement protocols not only jeopardizes public funds but also undermines the delivery of essential healthcare services to the region’s residents.

This recent revelation is not an isolated incident. Previous reports reveal a pattern of questionable practices within the regional administration dating back to the 2016-2018 period. During a June 2018 PAC meeting, Finance Secretary Hector Butts was tasked with examining drug procurement documents submitted by Region Five. It was discovered that the region had received a higher value of medical drugs than warranted, with the REO admitting to the discrepancy but deflecting accountability to the Ministry of Public Health.

Former PAC Chairman, now President of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, recognized the severity of the situation and called for administrative actions to address the systemic issues plaguing the region’s procurement processes. However, despite assurances of investigation and corrective measures, the recurrence of malpractices continued, thereby raising doubts about the effectiveness of oversight and enforcement mechanisms.

The committee concluded that the revelations uncovered during the meeting underscore the urgent need for comprehensive reforms within the regional administration of Region Five and that transparency, accountability, and adherence to procurement regulations must be prioritized to prevent further mismanagement of public funds and ensure the efficient delivery of healthcare services to the region’s populace.


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