Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Winston Cosbert was last evening handed terms of reference (TOSs) to probe allegations of unauthorised disclosure of information, mismanagement and malpractices in the procurement of pharmaceuticals at the Ministry of Public Health.
In handing over the TORs, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that Government eagerly awaits a Report and the findings, so that appropriate action can be taken, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency.
“I have the confidence in your ability; I have seen your work before and you have done inquiries before. I look forward to the report. This is an important inquiry … and when you have to go after these things, you have to have evidence and facts [because] Government cannot act on innuendos and hearsay. We have to have an investigation and based on that, the Government acts,” the Minister said.
The Board of Inquiry (BoI) will begin today and is expected to provide its written report and findings to the Minister of State on or before November 30, 2016. The Inquiry is expected to take place at the Department of Public Service and at any other place, in which the Commissioner deems fit.
The release said that the Board is expected to investigate, examine and report on the “procurement and management processes by which the Ministry of Public Health awards contracts for the procurement of pharmaceuticals, services and supplies to bidders; whether there were unauthorised disclosure of any information on the procurement of pharmaceuticals by the staff of the Ministry of Public Health and the facts surrounding such unauthorised disclosure; the facts surrounding the allegation that Ms. Kandasie Aaron, without prior consent from the Ministry of Public Health, divulged any information on the procurement of pharmaceuticals; to what extent this specific disclosure is an isolated incident and if not, does it represent a more general practice at the Ministry of Public Health.”
The release said that it is also expected to probe the procedure which exists to identify and control the unauthorised disclosure of price sensitive information in the procurement of pharmaceuticals and how and when did the Ministry of Public Health become aware of these disclosures and what actions, if any, were taken.
After the investigation and findings, recommendations must be made for measures that could bolster information management systems within the Ministry to improve the handling of protected information and deter any unauthorised disclosures; and remedial actions, or any other actions, against staff who are found to have acted improperly and those persons who have benefited from the actions of the public officials and for criminal prosecution or other actions, if any.
Drug procurement has been at the centre of numerous controversies. Billions are spent annually on drugs by the government and observers say that the high value contracts present a great risk for impropriety.