Following concerns of irregularities reported at Dangriga’s Southern Regional Hospital, the usual internal audit conducted by the Ministry of Health was expanded to invite in the Auditor General’s office. CEO Dr. Peter Allen today said the matter was under investigation as of Monday but the Ministry had acted immediately on the reports.
“I can tell you that the audit has started. I spoke briefly to…indirectly to the Auditor General’s team; of course, we had begun an internal audit in July, and the reasons to then, caused us to move that proven internal investigation to an external investigation. I am afraid I don’t have any formal up data to partly to say that the Auditor General’s team is in Dangriga and they are working.
Reporter: “How you got to audit”?
Dr, Peter Allen: “The internal audit was triggered by some staff by the Southern Regional who I deem to be trustworthy and honest, calling me at the administration with some concerns, and the concerns were not overt, but they were enough to suggest that maybe something was happening that wasn’t correct. And so, we asked our finance officers from our Accounts Department at the Ministry of Health to go down and look what was happening”.
According to Dr. Allen the concerns given did not indicate that monies were missing as reported, but necessary information has gone missing.
“In the end, that’s not unusual. We have a budget of a little over $103M at the Ministry of Health, and as you’ll see again with the National Health Accounts, we do try to make our investments of those resources as transparent and as accountable as possible. The budget is separated into cost centers and line items, and from time to time, we are always checking on how those funds are invested and trying to make sure that financial regulations are adhered to, at every term. So, these are things that we do from time to time. The events that triggered the extension of the investigation to the Auditor General arrived at unusual, but we are happy to have the continued support of the Auditor General’s Department in making sure that we continue to make our investments of the people’s money as wisely as possible”.
The Ministry awaits the results of the report, which it hopes doesn’t take too long, but has made accountability its goal.
Dr. Peter Allen:
“We really don’t have any report as yet because the Auditor General’s team, I believe, started their work in Dangriga on Monday. So, today I would hope, later this afternoon to be able to talk to the auditors themselves but as far as I am aware, nobody’s been suspended yet.
Reporter: “Is this the case where monies are missing or…”
Dr. Peter Allen: “Well, the only thing I can tell you at the moment is that information is missing. There seems to be some statements missing and some check stubs missing. That’s really all I know as yet. But, of course, that in itself is worrisome, and so, that is why we took the immediate step of first then conducting an internal audit and then an external audit because we need to be able to account for the funds”.