Police to probe attempts to steal public funds at Health Ministry

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Police have been called in to investigate instances of fraud at the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), the Government announced Tuesday.

Internal auditors at the Ministry of Finance will also be probing the misappropriation of public funds at the Ministry.

The Ministry, in a statement, said there are widespread instances of “misappropriation of funds and the blatant attempts to steal” public funds”.

This announcement comes one day after Region Five officials stuttered to explain to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) how it received $154 million worth of drugs from the Ministry when only $60 million was spent.

This is just one of many instances of discrepancies which have been uncovered by the PAC during its scrutiny of the country’s drug procurement process.

Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence has already warned senior employees about the investigation.

“In a frank discourse with senior MOPH officials, the Public Health Minister raised questions about “blatant attempts to steal” and other brazen dishonest acts perpetrated by MOPH employees,” the statement noted.

Lawrence is quoted as saying that fraud and other corrupt practices have been ongoing for a “long time” at the Ministry.

Lawrence, who is an accountant by profession, told employees when she took over the mantle in January 2017 that she would not tolerate dishonest employees, the statement from the Ministry revealed.

The Ministry has already cautioned programme managers, who were stunned by her revelations of the investigation.

The Minister is further quoted as saying in the release, “I am advising you to check what you sign and ensure it meets the regulatory requirements and it is in keeping with your programmes.”

According to the Ministry’s statement, the Minister did not hide her distaste at employees who have been “sabotaging the Ministry left, right and centre.”

Some workers have even been sending missives on internal MOPH matters to persons outside the Public Service Structure, Lawrence revealed.

She indicated that letter writers will shortly have the opportunity to “bring the evidence” to support their claims.

Less threatening, but equally toxic she said is the issue of insubordination, which is rife among some categories of employees.

“Some parts of the MOPH train have been derailed (and) the madness has to stop,” Minister Lawrence is quoted as saying.

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