…over embarrassing PAC hearing, among other issues
…former Army Chief Brigadier, George Lewis to act as CEO
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 judgment 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 a failure to submit financial statements for 2015 in breach of the Public Corporation Act by GPHC.
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 serves 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 judgment 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 Ministry of Public Health 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.”
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 Ministry of Public Health with effect from September, 2015 commenced providing a subvention to GPHC and the entity has since no longer functioned as a Budget Agency.
This means the National Assembly no longer reviews the 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 $527million; 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.
More recently 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 multi-million-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.
Observers had contended that the ‘contrived scarcity’ would have invariably caused deaths and aggravated illnesses in patients lacking medication.
Another incident of note was occasioned when the Hospital officials including the now ousted CEO, 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.
Johnson firing comes two weeks after former Army Chief Brigadier, George Lewis, was appointed as the Deputy Chief Executive (DCEO) of the Hospital.
Lewis will now act as CEO with the removal of Johnson.