$100M disappears, no paper trail found, $137M not properly verified
- Parliamentary body recommends Forensic Audit for Ministry of Health
Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly, Ms. Volda Lawrence, yesterday recommended a forensic audit of the Ministry of Health (MOH) accounts.
The recommendation was made during the PAC interrogation of the Health Ministry’s financial team headed by Permanent Secretary, Hydar Ally.
During the Committee’s cross examination of the Health Ministry’s team, it was revealed that $100M which was an overdraft of an account that went inactive in July 1996, was debited to the account in June 1997, almost one year later.
The reason for the transaction was not discovered, nor according to the MOH team, has a paper trail been found. There was also no information available about who, what or why the amount was issued.
During the testimony of the MOH team, the PAC also found that the Ministry was guilty of breaching the Procurement Act regarding the purchase of fuel. Hydar Ally incurred the wrath of Chairperson Lawrence when he stated that the MOH had purchased the fuel from Guyoil on credit, and is still doing so. He also said that the Ministry will continue to do so.
During the period under review, the Health Ministry had an outstanding debt of $4.9M to the provider, for which approval was not granted for settlement of the debt. The Audit Office had recommended in its 2008 report that the purchase of fuel on credit be discontinued to avoid future breaches of the Procurement regulations.
The MOH team was also questioned about the procurement of drugs for the Health Sector from a single provider, the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC). The Committee cross-examined the team about the Ministry’s failure to produce documentation for the transactions between the GPC and the MOH.
More than $137M in transactions could not be properly verified. It was at this point that the PAC Chairperson offered the recommendation that the Auditor General place the Ministry of Health on the list of places to undergo a forensic audit.
Questions were also raised on the accounting process of projects undertaken by the Basic Needs Trust Fund for the Ministry.
Listed among the projects was the construction of the Mabaruma Hospital which was completed two years ago, and for which the accounting is incomplete. There is an outstanding amount of $11M still to be accounted for.
There was also the issue of the provision of services by Farfan and Mendes for refrigerators which had been purchased by the Ministry but were never used. These units required $2.3M to be put in working order.
Another issue was the payment of consultants not being documented for projects undertaken.
The Ministry’s team has been given deadlines ranging from two weeks to 15 days to provide answers to the questions posed by the committee.