Excessive vehicle repairs at health ministry
-says Auditor General
Stabroek News
December 9, 2003

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The Ministry of Health awarded 249 contracts valued at $8.9M for vehicle repairs and spent another $4.5M on spare parts in 2002, amounts the Auditor General feels are excessive.

In addition, a large quantity of gifts was received throughout 2002, but he has seen no evidence that they were incorporated into the public accounts.

The report of the Auditor General into the public accounts also notes some $55.6M was paid to five security firms. However, the contracts of two security firms, the Commissioner of Police Special Constabulary and United Associates, had not been renewed for the year 2002. The ministry's Accounting Officer explained that the two firms had been given approval by the Cabinet to perform their services.

The Auditor General says notwithstanding the explanation, he recommends that the services be advertised before the contracts are awarded, as this could cut costs.

With a total value of $84.8M, 688 cheques were not presented with 27 of those cheques ($729.4M) drawn during 2002 and now stale-dated. More cheques valued at $128.9M had become stale-dated and have been dated as far back as January 2001. However, at the time of reporting in July 2003, the stale-dated cheques were written back to the cash book and transferred to the main account.

A total of $701.6M was spent on materials, equipment and supplies. The report states that included in this figure were sums totalling $629.7M for the purchase of drugs and medical supplies. Of this amount, $534.2M was for the purchase of drugs and supplies from overseas.

The report states that with the exception of a few items those supplies purchased from overseas were acquired from specialised agencies as approved in 1997. However, invoices to the value of $148M were not submitted for audit examination. Dental equipment to the value of $30M, which was approved by Cabinet, was not supplied to the ministry up to the time of reporting.

According to the report, the ministry said that the $30M amount was deposited in a bank by Letter of Credit and would have been released to the supplier upon delivery of goods.

The ministry was advised to close the Letter of Credit and have the sum refunded to the ministry's bank account. The report stated that up to the time of reporting, the $30M sum was not refunded to the Consolidated Fund, but the Appropriation Fund was overstated by $30M.

The report recommends that the matter be again pursued with the Central Bank.