The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Board has remov-ed Chief Executive Officer, Allan Johnson with effect from today, and his deputy, retired Brigadier George Lewis will act in his capacity.
The removal of Johnson as CEO of the hospital was made public by the Minis-try of Public Health yesterday though an announcement it said it received from GPHC Board Chair-man Kesaundra Alves. The statement cited excerpts from the letter of removal sent to him by the Board where it spelt out to him the reasons.
“The incident before the PAC (Public Accounts Committee of Parliament) has embarrassed the Board and staff of this Corpora-tion and, to our dismay, has caused the public to question the desire of the Board for transparency and accountability in the handling of the Corporation’s money, ” the letter states.
Further, it added that the Board “also had cause to question your judgement on a number of occasions. Moreover, you continue to be absent or request early release from Board and Board Committee meetings… (and) are therefore consistently unavailable to supply the Board with pertinent information or to take instructions from the Board.”
The PAC meeting referred to, in the correspondence, was held on May 29th. Then, both Johnson and the GPHC’s Finance Director, Ronald Charles, were asked to leave the hearings after they were unable to answer the questions that were being posed to them.
Only the duo turned up to field questions from the PAC whose Chairman Irfaan Ali had described it as “shocking”. But Johnson was confident that he and the Finance Direc-tor could stand scrutiny over the finances of the institution.
The pressure piled up on the duo almost immediately when PPP/C MP Juan Edghill, asked how much money was kept in the hospital’s account for the years 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.”
That answer did not sit well with Edghill as he erupted and accused the two men of trying to thwart the work of the PAC, since they were unable to answer questions.
“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 Johnson and Charles to leave the hearing, since he said he wasn’t going to allow the two men to waste the PAC’s time.
Sources told Stabroek News that in addition to the PAC matter Johnson had been “on the radar for other administrative hiccups”.
It was only last week that the Ministry of Public Health announced that recently retired GDF Chief of Staff, Lewis would be Johnson’s deputy.
A follow up release yesterday to the Ministry’s initial announcement of Johnson’s fate notified that Lewis would be replacing Johnson.
Johnson told this newspaper that he yesterday received a letter from the Board but it was “confusing”.
“I indeed received a letter but it was confusing. I was told to report to the Ministry of Health,” he stated.
He explained that he did not want to go into the details of the letter until he had spoken to the Ministry and had clarity on what happens next to him and as such informed that he was “not saying anything further”.
Stabroek News understands that Johnson will remain in the employ of the Ministry but that a decision on “where he will be posted is not yet certain.”
Back in 2015, following the regional and general elections and subsequent change in government, the Ministry of Public Health had seconded Johnson from the New Amsterdam Hospital to act as the GPHC CEO.