Lack of accountability for drugs warranted to Region Five proved a contentious issue before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday; as Chairman Irfaan Ali had Regional Executive Officer (REO), Ovid Morrison and team expelled from the Committee.
In addition, Ali instructed the Finance Secretary to look into taking appropriate action against the accounting officer, who faced the heat from the PAC after Auditor General Deodat Sharma complained of being hindered in the execution of his duty by Morrison.
The AG noted that Morrison had written a letter to him stating that no one from the region could release information to him unless it goes through him. PAC member Juan Edghill, who was filling in for Ali, questioned why Morrison was not cooperating with the AG. To this, Morrison described his conduct as simply discharging his duty as an accounting officer.
Sums totaling $135 million were transferred by two interdepartmental warrants to the Ministry of Public Health, for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies on behalf of the region.
In the case of $60 million, a financial return received indicated that the full amount was expended. But the cost was not stated.
In the case of a second warrant at a cost of $75 million, the administration received a Nil financial return.
Probed by the Chairman, Morrison noted that $135 million was warranted, but they received $154 million worth in drugs from the Ministry of Health. Asked by Edghill why he received extras, Morrison noted that the Ministry of Public Health would have to respond. He admitted that at the time, he did not enquire.
Edghill demanded that Morrison explain how he accounted for the excess drugs. However, Morrison noted that he would have to make further checks with the Ministry of Public Health.
In fact, Morrison and his team seemed unable to answer much of the Committee’s questions, a fact that saw Edghill express fear that the region either did not know what it was doing or was covering up. (Jarryl Bryan)