… also cites questionable judgement, repeated absence
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Allan Johnson, has been fired for embarrassing the Corporation in addition to his questionable judgement and repeated absence from Board meetings.
The decision was taken by the GPHC’s Board of Directors and was announced by
Chairperson Kessaundra Alves. Johnson’s firing is effective immediately.
According to a GPHC missive announcing the firing, it was pointed out that in a letter to Johnson, Chairman Alves noted that “the incident before PAC (Public Accounts Committee) has embarrassed the Board and staff of this Corporation and, to our dismay, has caused the public to question the desire of the Board for transparency and accountability in the handling of the Corporation’s money.”
Johnson and GPHC Finance Director, Ronald Charles were a week ago ousted from the Public Accounts Committee by Chairman Irfaan Ali, since both men were woefully ill-prepared when questioned about expenditure by the entity.
The matter came to a head during the session when a member of the Committee
questioned failure by the GPHC to submit financial statements for 2015 in breach of the Public Corporation Act.
Questions were left unanswered and a strange state of affairs was also unearthed as the Finance Director seemed unaware he was in fact Finance Director, since another person also served in the capacity.
After the men failed on numerous occasions to provide specific answers on spending undertaken by the GPHC in 2015, Ali intervened and brought the proceedings to a close before ousting Johnson.
Meanwhile, the GPHC Board in informing Johnson of the decision indicated that the entity also “had cause to question your judgement on a number of occasions. Moreover, you continue to be absent or request early release from Board and Board Committee meetings… (and) are therefore consistently unavailable to supply the Board with pertinent information or to take instructions from the Board.”
The letter said Johnson shall no longer act in the position “with effect from Friday, 9th June, 2017.”
The Public Health Ministry seconded Johnson from the New Amsterdam Hospital
in 2015 to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) to act as its CEO.
According to the GPHC in making the announcement, “the Board unanimously decided to remove Johnson following a series of lapses which included the embarrassment of the Corporation before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last month end.”
The move by the nation’s premier State-owned health institution, comes days after Guyana Times published a critical assessment and “closer look at Government’s parallel appointments,” at the institution, questioning whether there was “Structured corruption at GPHC?”
The GPHC has in recent months been coming under fire for repeated breaches of regulation, laws and financial excesses with regard the entity’s finances.
GPHC was among the first agencies to begin receiving its annual allocations en bloc and without scrutiny ahead of parliamentary approval.
The Public Health Ministry with effect from September 2015 commenced providing a subvention to GPHC and the entity has since no longer functioned as a budget
This means the National Assembly no longer reviews details of the expenditure for the hospital since billions would be turned over from the Treasury in a bulk sum for the Granger Administration appointed officials to expend.
Of the total $8.5 billion allocated to the entity for the year, employment costs account for $3.1 billion; capital expenditure has been budgeted at $527 million; dietary and meals at $537 million; and other purchases, such as cleaning supplies and security, have been budgeted at $579 million.
This means there is about $2.6 billion for the year for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies.
With $2 billion of that money already spent in the first two months of the year – representing some 77 per cent of the total allocation for the year – Government will undoubtedly be heading to the coffers for more money.
A CLOSER LOOK
The financial affairs at the GPHC and the discrepancies raised by the Auditor General addressed this past week by the Public Accounts Committee – where it was discovered that more than a year later the officials appointed by the David Granger Administration are yet to comply with the laws of Guyana.
A closer look at the appointments overlooking the expenditure reveals an interesting layout of an organisational chart for a government funded entity.
It reveals parallel appointments serving in positions that essentially usurp the authority of the office holders in order to wield control over the entity’s finances and procurement systems.
Michael Khan, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was sent on leave but remains in the employ of GPHC, even as a coalition appointee Allan Johnson continues to perform the functions as acting CEO.
In keeping with the slew of appointments of former military personnel to high office, George Lewis, the recently retired Army Brigadier was recently installed as Deputy CEO at the medical institution.
One of the more glaring parallel appointments at the GPHC that led in part to the recent brouhaha at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is the position of Finance Director; in fact there are two Finance Directors at the GPHC.
Ronald Charles was appointed by the coalition Government as Director of Finance but despite the substantive portfolio, he is in charge only for procurement – as was told to the Public Accounts Committee recently.
More recently, the GPHC was embroiled in another procurement related scandal when information surfaced that the management moved to sideline local companies for the purchase of emergency pharmaceuticals worth in excess of $605 million from a Trinidadian firm, ANSA McAL.
That company subsequently made a multimillion-dollar donation to the Administration in the form of an Arch which was erected on the East Coast Demerara highway at Cummings Lodge.
The emergency at the Hospital leading to the ‘emergency’ purchase was found to have been a manufactured incident since the officials appointed by the Granger Administration had delayed and cancelled four out of its five public tenders in the preceding months, creating a situation where there is a massive shortage of pharmaceuticals, which was initially denied by the authorities, and which would have caused deaths and aggravated illnesses in patients lacking medication.
Another incident of note, in taking a closer look at the possibility of structured corruption at GPHC and Granger’s parallel appointments, was occasioned when the Hospital officials denied the Chairperson and members of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services entry to the drug bond controlled by GPHC in light of the countrywide reports of drug shortages.
Efforts to contact the GPHC CEO proved futile as several calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.