Millions in undelivered equipment: GPHC CEO wants stricter enforcement of procurement regulations

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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, (rtd.) Brigadier, George Lewis says it is time for suppliers to procure and deliver items in a timely manner.

Retired Brigadier, George Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation

“Here I wish to say that we welcome the efforts of the Public Procurement Commission which only a few weeks ago initiated action to create regulations for the debarment of certain suppliers and contractors,” he told the Department of Public Information. “I think those regulations are needed and are necessary because in many cases and on many occasions contractors and suppliers fail to deliver on time, fail to deliver quality work.”

The CEO made these remarks after the findings in the Auditor General’s 2017 report regarding GPHC were made public including that the National Procurement and Tender Administrative Board (NPTAB) gave approval for three contracts to procure a truck, transformer and other critical medical equipment totalling $100 Million.

The report found that at the time of the audit the procured items were unaccounted for. This information was published by several media outlets.

Lewis said, “At the time of inspection of the Auditor General we would have been receiving equipment ordered and I think it was just about little over $50M that was not received. I wish to say that since that time, all the equipment except the transformer has been received by the hospital they have been taken in and issued to the various departments. These include medical equipment, patient monitors and the truck.”

The CEO said among other outstanding items to be delivered by the identified contractor is the 1000 KVA transformer worth $9M.

“In terms of the transformer, we are working with the supplier to see if we can get that in as early as possible…. While there are regulations in place to deal with contractors who always fail to deliver, we wish for these to be strengthened so that procuring agencies like the GPHC wouldn’t find itself in this current position of being criticized for failure to acquire equipment in a timely manner.”

In his recommendations, Auditor General (AG) Deodat Sharma urged the head of the Budget agency to take action in order to have the items delivered to GPHC… as per the contract stipulations.

Meanwhile, State auditors also discovered the Public Health Ministry not only overpaid several staffers, but has dropped the ball when it comes to recovering the sums which totalled $438,720 for 2017.

The report notes that for the period under review, pay change directives for resignations and maternity leave were forwarded late to the Ministry’s Accounts Department. The money, which was paid to six staffers, has not been recovered.

In addition, the situation is compounded by unrecovered sums from previous years.

According to the AG, the previous out-dated payments total $5.1 million and peaked in 2016, with some $1.7 million in overpayments not being recovered that year.

When Sharma gave the Ministry a chance to respond to these findings, the Head of the budget agency noted that several employees were “written to with respect to overpayments.”

Despite the Ministry reaching out to these staffers, however, there has been no progress in getting back this money. As a consequence, the Ministry related that measures are in place to publish the names of these employees via print and TV in order to get the refunds.

In addition, the Ministry informed the AG that advice is being sought from Attorney General Basil Williams on the way forward.

The Audit Office recommended that systems be put in place to prevent reoccurrences and recover outstanding monies.

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