…in breach of Parliamentary order instructing him to do so
Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Allan Johnson has failed to comply with an order of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to submit records substantiating that the institution did in fact return millions of dollars to the Treasury in compliance with the financial laws of the land.
The glaring financial discrepancy was raised by the Auditor General in his 2015 report and queried by the Public Accounts Committee on Monday last.
Johnson and his Finance Director had differing versions of whether all unspent money allocated to the entity had been returned to the Treasury at the end of the year.
Johnson had told the Committee that all of the unspent money for 2015 and 2016 had been returned to the Treasury; his Finance Director claimed otherwise and none were able to produce the corroborating documents.
Checks with the Parliamentary Committee Division on Thursday revealed that none of the requested information has been submitted by the Hospital’s CEO or a designate.
PAC Member and former Minister within the Finance Ministry, Bishop Juan Edghill has since charged that Johnson was deliberately being evasive on political instructions in order to frustrate the work of the PAC as it probed the Auditor General’s findings with regards discrepancies in the institution’s spending of taxpayers’ dollars in recent years.
Either that or he is grossly incompetent, according to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) member of the PAC.
Edghill said that “any Accounting Officer worth his salt would arm himself with the necessary personnel and information in order to adequately address the audit queries when appearing before PAC.”
The former Minister in the Finance Ministry told this publication that Johnson would have known about the query at least six months ago when the audit findings would have been turned over to that institution.
He further charged that the institution would have been subject to ‘exit interviews’ with the Audit Office over the discrepancies raised.
Supporting his claim of a political hand pulling the proverbial strings, Edghill drew reference to the fact that GPHC is currently under intense scrutiny by the PPP/C opposition particularly over its procurement of drugs and pointed to a recent incident where members of a Parliamentary Sectoral Committee was prevented from inspecting GPHCs storage bond.
The former Government Minister said the PAC will be making its recommendations when preparing its report for the Full House of the National Assembly.
In that report, according to Edghill, recommendations may be made for disciplinary action, whether departmentally or criminally, whether fines should be paid or the hospital CEO surcharged.
The former Government Minister said too that the Finance Secretary, Dr Hector Butts is also empowered to act under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
Edghill said he was yet to receive any notification from the Clerk of Committees as it relates to whether Johnson did in fact lay over documents promised to that parliamentary body – to be submitted on Tuesday last.
On Monday last during the PAC meeting when the GPHC officials failed on numerous occasions to provide specific answers on spending undertaken by the Hospital in 2015, Chairman Irfaan Ali intervened and brought the proceedings to a close before ousting Johnson.
The PAC Chairman was adamant the GPHC’s CEO, “is trying to frustrate the PAC, I believe the CEO, you, you are disrespectful… you came here before you know who are the relevant offices that need to be before PAC.”
According to Ali, “this behaviour would not be tolerated; I will not allow you to waste the PAC’s time… we are going to ask you to leave this morning and we are going to get back to you and we hope you come back prepared the next time.”
He used the occasion to draw to Johnson’s attention the fact that the public was an integral stakeholder in the process.