The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a Finance Director of the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) were asked to leave a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing yesterday after they were unable to answer the questions that were being posed to them.
The scrutiny from the PAC Chairman Irfaan Ali started after GPH CEO Allan Johnson introduced Ronald Charles as the Director of Finance and the only other representative from the hospital at the hearing, which was conducted in the parliamentary chambers at the Public Buildings.
In response, Ali said it was “shocking” that only two persons were the full extent of the team.
PAC member Juan Edghill also questioned Johnson on whether he and Charles were well-equipped to answer the questions that were going to be posed to them. Johnson affirmed that they were.
The scrutiny of the two men increased after Edghill, a PPP/C MP, asked how much resources were kept in the hospital’s account for the year of 2015 and 2016, without being returned to the Consolidated Fund. “All of the funds were returned to the Government of Guyana, sir,” Johnson answered.
At that point, Ali interjected and stated that the monies from 2016 were not returned to the Consolidated Fund and asked Johnson whether he was aware of that fact. Johnson then directed the question to Charles, who said, “In terms of 2015, all of the funds, the ones that we collected from the Government of Guyana, was sorted out and would’ve been returned. With 2016, as far as I am aware… there is still some money that was outstanding. I need to clarify that.”
The drama started to unfold after Charles was questioned on whether he was the Finance Director, to which he said, “Not to finance per se….”
Johnson was then asked to clarify whether Charles was the Finance Director and he explained shortly after that Charles was the Finance Director of Procurement and that the actual Finance Director had reported sick and could not make it.
“I am confused with what is going on here. When you introduced Mr Charles to the PAC today, you said he was the Finance Director. Mr Charles did not object to that introduction,” Ali said, to which Johnson responded and said, “That’s his designation.”
Ali then questioned Charles whether he was the Finance Director, to which he said yes. “You’re here before the PAC as the Finance Director and you’re supposed to be aware of the finances of the hospital as the Finance Director, yes or no?” Ali questioned, to which Charles responded, “Yes, I should be.”
When asked whether he was indeed fully aware of the hospital’s finances, Charles said, “Not fully, sir.” After Charles’ answer, Edghill erupted and accused the two men of trying to thwart the work of the PAC, since they were unable to answer question.
“I am taking a very serious view that the CEO of the Georgetown Public Hospital coming to PAC with one member of staff who is not capable and in possession of all the information when there are sectional heads that should be here to assist him. He, himself, would’ve come to PAC before and fielded a delegation that would’ve been able to answer the questions,” Edghill said, while pointing out that he is of the opinion that Johnson and Charles “received instructions to do this” and it was an attempt to frustrate the committee and hide information.
After the furore ended, Ali accused Johnson of being disrespectful to the PAC and said that the behaviour would not be tolerated.
He subsequently asked him and Charles to leave the hearing, since he said he wasn’t going to allow the two men 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 next time,” Ali told the Johnson and Charles, who subsequently got up and left.
While they were leaving, Edghill shouted across the room and told Johnson that he should walk with his head down in shame.