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Finance Secretary to Investigate Allegations of Non-Cooperation by Region Five

Finance Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Dr Hector Butts has been asked by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to investigate matters surrounding allegations of non-cooperation by the Mahaica-Berbice Regional Democratic Council (RDC) towards the Auditor General.

Regional Executive Officer (REO) of the region, Ovid Morrison along with administrative officers appeared today before the PAC, to give account on several outstanding matters, including the use of drugs supplied by the Ministry of Health to the region.

According to the REO, sums totalling $135Million were transferred by way of two Inter-Departmental Warrants to the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) for the Ministry to procure drugs and medical supplies on behalf of the Regional Administration.

Warrant number 4/2016 issued on August 16, 2016, was valued at some $60Million. Morrison explained that a financial return was received indicating that the full amount was expended. However, although drugs and medical supplies were received by the Regional Administration, the cost was not stated in the documentation that accompanied the deliveries.

Another warrant number 7/2016 issued on October 18, was valued at $75Million. According to the REO, the Regional Administration received a Nil Financial Return indicating that the amount was not expended, and the Appropriation Account was credited with the unspent amount of $75Million.

Seeking clarification on the uses of the excess, PAC Chairman, MP Irfaan Ali sought to establish that the REO was either unaware of the issue or was deliberately withholding information from the committee. Morrison, however, said that he is aware of the issue and had sought advice from the Auditor General (AG).

The Auditor General advised that regional administration seek the information from the Ministry of Health regarding the excess. It was at this point that the AG Deodat Sharma said that his office has sought information from the region but was not receiving any assistance from the REO.

Speaking to the media after the sitting, the REO explained that the information being sought is the documentation of audits for the year 2017. He said he had requested that he be given some time to submit the information.

“I replied to the Auditor General in writing, the amount of information requested and the process that would be applied,” he said. The REO had given a deadline of June 15 for the submission of the documents, which he said was done.

Morrison said he is not sure that the right information was filtered to Chairman of the PAC.

By: Alexis Rodney.

Images: Jameel Mohamed.

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