Better management at central drugs bond after issues flagged by Auditor General

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The Auditor General in his 2019 report on the public accounts of Guyana flagged several issues with the payment and delivery of goods to the Ministry of Health’s Materials Management Unit (MMU).

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Malcolm Watkins, however, told a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee that concerted efforts are being made to improve the management of the Unit and the supplies procured.

One of the issues flagged in the 2019 report was that a $46 million cheque drawn in 2018 was paid to the supplier in August 2020. However, the Auditor General’s office could not determine whether goods valued $13.1 million were delivered, as documentation supporting the receipt of goods was not submitted for scrutiny.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira questioned the Health Ministry team that appeared before the PAC on Monday about these discrepancies.

“This aspect of the supply chain is contract management and it is part of the whole bigger structure that we are managing.

“We have put a couple of things in place once the contract is signed,” Watkins told the bipartisan Committee.

Among the interventions, he said, are more aggressive reconciliation checks and better management of bank guarantees.

Though emphasising that the health system is “complex” and constrained by a “limited skill pool,” the Permanent Secretary assured the Committee that much work is being done to ensure that the procurement and supply of drugs and medical supplies are more efficiently done.

The MMU, located at Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara, is the Health Ministry’s central drugs bond. Supplies in all 10 administrative regions are replenished from here.

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