– $40M loss in expired drugs
The 2010 Report of the Auditor General has continued to make worrying revelations about the Bharrat Jagdeo-led administration, with poorly kept records being the order of the day.
At the Ministry of Health, drugs at the government’s storehouses were being entered into the system using pencils, with almost $40M in medicine being destroyed at one time in 2010 because of expiry.
Similar to the issue of the problematic old age pension programme which the state auditors found to be in a complete mess and was blasted in the report, the inventory keeping at the Health Ministry came under fire.
The report covers audits on the Public Accounts of Guyana and the accounts of the various ministries, departments and regions.
At the Ministry’s Kingston’s Stores, auditors discovered several entries in stock ledgers made in pencil with the records not balanced.
“In addition, there were instances where receipts and issues of stock were not recorded and there was a failure to reconcile stock ledgers with bin cards. As a result, the vital control mechanism for ensuring proper accountability for stock was not in place.”
In addition to the stores accounting, auditors carried out a physical count of items at the stores and found 31 instances of significant shortages and excesses.
“Some items of stock were not displayed on shelves or stored in a manner to enable easy verification of quantities on hand and in some cases there was no evidence of labeling.”
At the Farm Stores, although there were systems to account for receipts of issues of the drugs and medical supplies to stock ledgers, bin cards and a computerized system, the records were not updated “resulting in balances shown not being considered as reliable bases for determining the stock position at a point in time. In the circumstances, a proper comparison with physical balances could not be carried out.”
The Audit Office said that it carried out a sample check of 93 items and found discrepancies with 57 of them.
Store workers were shockingly using the computerized database as the basis to update the stock ledgers. “These ledgers are required to be independent records of transactions, which can otherwise be authenticated through the use of source documents, such as orders or requisitions, invoices and deliveries, receipts and issue notes.”
There were several issues being deleted and written over without the relevant required initials.
“During the period under review, the Ministry continued to suffer losses due to expiration of large quantities of drugs. Noteworthy was the fact that destruction of expired drugs valued at $39.955M had occurred and a large quantity of expired stock as still on hand, pending processing and destruction.”
The Ministry, in explaining the finds, said that 100% stock count was being carried out and moves were underway to fully computerize the stock inventory.
The audit also found that while the Ministry in 2010 received a large quantity of gifts, it was not until August last year that it sought to have them recorded in the Public Accounts.
Over the weekend, Kaieteur News also published startling revelations carried in the report that indicated a possible racket in the ordering of photocopied text books for schools from a particular printer.
It was found that hundreds of millions in cheques were written months before the contracts were even approved by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, a clear suggestion that the Ministry of Education could have known beforehand that the award would have gone in a certain direction.
The report has been suggesting that the poor records kept by ministries of the government could see the system manipulated, with fraud likely.
There have been instances of goods being ordered and services paid for, to the tune of billions of dollars, without proof that value for money was given, and even that goods and services were actually delivered.
By STABROEK STAFF | LETTERS | WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012
My colleagues have reminded me of my letter in your publication of December 19, 2011, imploring obedience to the law disqualifying persons with dual citizenship from sitting in the National Assembly (‘The new MPs should hold only Guyanese citizenship’). This law is Article 155 (1) of the Constitution which says “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.” Having said to them I think I did my part and hope the political leaders will do theirs, I am reminded this is not enough until an answer is received or corrective action taken. So here I go again and hope this time the politicians hear and give answers or execute actions.
The disqualification law is similar to the law forbidding a naturalised Guyanese from running for the presidency, and stipulating the period of absence from the country to be eligible to run for office. The positions of president and member of parliament are the two highest political offices. I attended some of the 1998-2000 Constitutional Reform meetings and heard that the reasons for having these included were to avoid persons holding office who are not fully committed to the country or jumping ship when the going gets tough. The feeling was you cannot serve two masters at the same time. The presenters and attendees cited examples of this practice in other countries in making their case.
It is said that there are cases of MPs holding dual citizenship in all three parties. The public officials involved should come out and clear their names with proof. If they don’t then the party leaders should. The disillusioned have resigned themselves to a fate that things will get worse because the members of this corps of politicians are birds of a feather.
My colleagues are convinced we are witnessing the death of public service and political decency. They think public servants no longer serve the public, are arrogant and a law unto themselves. A recent ‘Frankly Speaking‘ column referred to this being a badly kept secret. The columnist supplied a definition for ‘honourable,‘ hinting that the ‘honourable‘ in the members of the National Assembly has waned. There is genuine concern about the growing absence of integrity which was a prerequisite for public service in the not too distant past. Honour was worn with pride because it meant everything, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, living in the rural areas or the towns. Persons stepped aside until their names were cleared or proof was provided in defence of their name. The pessimists rejoin that the accused are from our generation.
Editor, the bone of contention here is the law and all being subject to it, but some think they aren’t. The point is not whether the law is outmoded; it is that it exists. The MPs took an oath to uphold the constitution and should respect the law because it is on the books. Our sister Caribbean countries had to deal with a similar matter. It was handled, and the accused made answerable. With a public outcry and the help of the media the accused and enablers no longer ignored the people. There is the feeling the same can be done here. I sincerely hope this time the MPs and party leaders take the time to respond or you use your publication to have them do so.
By STABROEK STAFF | EDITORIAL | MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2012
As President Ramotar settles into his mandate and comes to grips with his agenda for the year and beyond, nothing will test his freedom of action and sincerity in reforming the security sector like the question of a full investigation into the rampage here of convicted drug lord Roger Khan and whether his activities ensnared senior members of the last two administrations or at worse criminalized them.
It is the proverbial elephant in the room. No other issue can hold a candle to it. Every other security matter will be a jigsaw missing its biggest piece without a true accounting for the Khan penetration of the security apparatus, his run-amok phantom squad and the ease with which he trafficked in cocaine. In his previous roles as PPP General Secretary and as presidential hopeful, like many others high up in the PPP/C and the government, Mr Ramotar did not grapple with the seriousness of the problem. His position then was quite likely in conformity with the stance of former President Jagdeo. Mr Ramotar is now, however, the person in the seat of the presidency and he now has to answer as President.
Whenever they get their act together, the parliamentary opposition will no doubt press the issue of the Khan inquiry and whether this entails a full-blown investigation of all of the violence and carnage of 2002-2008. The parties aside, there would be few independent-minded people in this country who would be opposed to a full-fledged Commission of Enquiry into the Khan reign of terror and drugs. This enquiry must be done for all the people of this country, particularly those who were directly affected by the terror and lost loved ones to the actions of this man who now sits in a US jail instead of having been subjected to the full extent of the law here and possible incarceration at Lot 12 Camp Street. The enquiry must not be seen as a trade-off between the parties or haggled into a reductive undertaking as was the case of the hearing into the allegations against former minister Gajraj.
Indeed, President Ramotar is in pole position to stake out the high ground. He can declare his intention to investigate the Khan period and enable a commission of enquiry with full powers. There may be challenges within his party and administration to it but it would be the right and appropriate thing to do. It is also worthy of note that Minister Ramsammy whose name was mentioned in a US court in relation to the permission for the purchase of spy equipment for Khan’s use has been retained in the Cabinet.
Despite the absence of a criminal investigation here into the many crimes that Khan was alleged to have committed, the disclosures in several cases in New York coupled with the revelations contained in the WikiLeaks cables place beyond any doubt that Khan was allowed to conduct his affairs here without fear of prosecution because of his connections. Where government officials are alleged to have been caught up in these matters the Rubicon has been crossed and the pathway to law and order and just governance has to be swiftly retraced.
Whether the government proceeds with foreign-funded reform of the police force which was so perversely obstructed by senior government members in the Jagdeo administration will not matter much if the nub of the Khan reign isn’t unlocked, understood and extensive walls built to defend against a recurrence.
Ultimately Khan is the one who is answerable. He has thrown in the towel and pleaded guilty. Surely he may now be in the frame of mind where he recognizes the futility of denying his role in the cocaine-spiked bloodshed here. He faces the prospect of being returned here upon the completion of his sentence in the US. He must certainly be aware that he would be a person of enormous interest in any number of murder investigations in connection with which his name has been called but for which there was never any prosecution. He might be prepared to make a clean breast of it and perhaps provide testimony to the Commission of Enquiry. On a state to state basis the Ramotar administration should be prepared to approach Washington on the prospect of having access to Mr Khan in his cell. This as we have said before is a matter that is perfectly in the domain of the President. There need not be any acrimonious parting of ways with the opposition over this matter.
Mr Khan fled here as a fugitive from American justice in 1993 – months after the PPP/C came to power – and at the time of his arrest in June 2006 he had taken over Kaow Island, owned and operated several businesses, had a private army and had been on the verge of securing a forestry lease in the south of Guyana undoubtedly for the continuation of his nefarious business. The collapse of that deal has raised questions about his possible involvement in the killing of Minister Satyadeow Sawh. All of this transpired under thirteen uninterrupted years of PPP/C governance and it is the PPP/C that has to enable its own conduct to be examined. Khan’s free reign was clearly a product of the compromised and broken security sector which the PPP/C never bothered too much about as control of the apparatus was its prime consideration. This commission of enquiry would be not so much about Khan’s mastery of the degraded security apparatus but as to whether government officials or the government knowingly facilitated his ascendancy for whatever reason. This is what President Ramotar’s government needs to get to the bottom of before it can embark on the much needed reforms to the security sector.
Roger Khan funded Muslim activities, planned to blow up DEA operation
Written by Demerara Waves
Friday, 02 September
Convicted cocaine trafficker, Shaheed ‘ Roger’ Khan, who had allegedly helped build mosques and fund scholarships, had allegedly promised to blow up a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) location and kill the United States Ambassador.
Labeled “Secret,’ the latest Wikileaked diplomatic cable from then American envoy, Roland Bullen likened Khan untoColombia’s one-time drug baron, Pablo Escobar.
Khan was arrested in Suriname in June 2006 and put on a plane to Trinidad where he was snatched by US agents and taken to New York. He was convicted for cocaine trafficking in October 2009 and sentenced to 15 years jail after a plea bargain.
In the February 1, 2006 missive, he detailed Khan’s operations that included arms and trafficking connections with the Colombian rebel group, FARC, with links to Panama and France.
Bullen recalled that Khan had allegedly threatened to kill the Ambassador and the Regional Security Officer when an informant leaked an American plan to set up a DEA counter narcotics operation inGuyana.
“After the leak, Khan threatened to blow up the site of the operation and threatened the lives of Ambassador and the then RSO (Ref D). These threats forced the operation’s abandonment,” said Bullen.
Recounting that Khan enjoyed business ties with now late Farouk Razac of Swiss House Cambio, “a big money laundering operation, to launder his narco-trafficking proceeds,” the cable noted that “Khan’s drug proceeds have also funded mosques and sent Muslims to study abroad.”
The then US Ambassador noted that Khan was operating in Guyana with apparent impunity and tacit approval of the Guyana government (GoG)
“It is believed that GoG is compromised to such an extent that it will not pursue Khan, despite paying lip service to the fight against narco-trafficking.
“Ambassador has spoken with GoG to little avail about Khan’s drug activities and unaccounted wealth. The GoG has adopted a head-in-the-sand approach to Khan and narco-trafficking in general. The GoG asks for hard evidence and pretends not to know how Khan acquires his means,” states the cable.
Bullen alleged that former Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj had employed a death squad whose principal was Khan to crack down on crime from 2002 to 2004. The cable quoted Gajraj as telling American embassy officials that Khan regularly traveled to Suriname to meet with Desi Bouterse. The two had met at a hotel in Suriname as recently as 2005.
Bullen alluded to what he termed “strong indications that Khan was deeply involved in a December 2005 shipment of weapons to FARC in Columbia.”
The cable disclosed concerns that Khan had been negotiating with former Chairman of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco), Vic Oditt to purchase a 200 square mile ranch at Pirara in the Southern Rupununiregion. “The ranch has a large airstrip, and Khan is believed to be acting at the behest of Colombian or Panamanian narco-interests.”
He had already bought out Kaow Island, Essequibo River from local entrepreneur and Harry Rambarran in February 2005. Once owned by the now bankrupt Willems
Timber, Kaow Island has a wharf for ocean going vessels, an airstrip, access to Guyana’s bush roads that radiate out from Bartica, and a 136,000-acre timber concession. In September 2005, Rambarran sued Khan for defaulting on a USD 1.1 million
promissory note made in partial payment for the island.
The embassy cable quoted a senior functionary of Office of the President as saying that sophisticated cell phone intercept equipment and high-powered weapons that had been seized by a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) roadblock in December 2002 had been handed back to Khan.
“Our interlocutor said the arrest had been “a mistake” because Khan was “working with the police” when the arrest was made,” states the cable.
By Stabroek staff
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
President Bharrat Jagdeo is of the view that crime in the region cannot be solved by crafting regional organizations and is suggesting that the place where there will be greater impact on crime is in the domestic jurisdiction.
After refusing free help from the UK to protect the nation, Jagdeo once again does not want foreigners to be able to examine the security apparatus his PPP government have in place, why is this?
Maybe if foreigners are involved people linked to the PPP would not get away with crimes against the nation and the Guyanese public. Cases like those involving Manniram Prashad’s son Navin Prashad will not disappear, proper police investigations would take place in the cases like those involving Donald Ramotar’s son Alexei Ramotar, or that of Office of the president Nanda Gopal, or Minister Kellawan Lall rum shop fiasco. The Phantom Squad murders, the Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan fiasco, the Minister Clement Rohee refugee scandal.
– Ramsammy urges victims to file complaints with Health Ministry
By Keeran Singh
Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has confirmed that he has received complaints of physicians and other public health employees soliciting financial contributions from their patients.
The minister was responding to a Kaieteur News query about allegations of Guyana-based Cuban doctors accepting monetary and other gifts from patients for medical services.
He added that this is unacceptable and the Ministry is trying to control this situation but needs the public’s co-operation.
Ramsammy stressed that patients utilizing public health treatment should refuse to pay for services and complain formally with supporting evidence to his Ministry.
“Generally speaking I do believe it happened and we have cases where doctors no longer work with us. It is due process and there is a need to document complaints,” he stated.
Kaieteur News has received several complaints about some Cuban doctors providing preferential treatment to patients who reward them with gifts including Blackberry phones, I-Pods and cash.
A local medical staffer alleged that this malpractice has contributed to the lengthy waiting hours patients encounter at these public facilities.
Kaieteur News was told that at the Leonora Cottage Hospital, West Coast Demerara, where there are reportedly seven Cuban doctors and one Guyanese doctor, the waiting period for the ‘poor’ is lengthy, while the more affluent are prioritized.
According to a source, this situation was so alarming at the health facility that patients openly complained and a meeting was recently held to address the matter. However, some employees believe that the culprits are still involved in this practice.
This situation reportedly also exists at another diagnostic centre in Region Four.
Some of the Cuban doctors stationed at the Leonora Cottage Hospital are also being accused of conducting private practices utilizing the hospital’s medical supplies.
It was noted that medications go missing from shelves and some patients who visit the hospital for follow-up treatment would reveal that a certain doctor visited their homes and performed certain procedures.
In relation to this, Dr. Ramsammy stated that the Cuban doctors should not be in private practice. He posited that patients should provide names of the doctors who are involved so that appropriate action can be taken.
The Minister further noted that the same persons who complain are the ones encouraging the situation.
In addition, the health sector has been trying to have accountability in health facilities but there is room for the misappropriation of medical supplies.
Patients have been complaining that there is a serious language barrier between the Cuban doctors and themselves. This has resulted in them depending on the Guyanese nurses for clarification.
Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran stated that the Cuban doctors have been exposed to English classes to help them interact with patients but according to Cuban doctors they never attended any classes. Whatever English they know was learned in Cuba and it was expanded through interaction with patients.
Dr. Ramsaran further noted that the Ministry is pairing doctors so that both Cuban and Guyanese doctors work together. However, this cannot be done at the Leonora Cottage Hospital because there are seven Cuban doctors and only one Guyanese doctor.
However, one medical practitioner noted that despite the shortcomings, the Cuban medical staffers provide important services for Guyanese. It was emphasized that the 300 medical students scheduled to return home in 2012 would not be able to provide these services like these specialists