…says interference hampering parliamentary committee’s workChairperson of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services (PSCSS), Dr Vindhya Persaud, has complained bitterly that executive interference in the committee’s work is hampering its progress.The PSCSS on a visit to the GPHCDr Persaud has said that since the PSCSS was barred from entering the storage bond at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in a recent incident, she is yet to receive a number of documents that had been requested. These documents include combined received-and-issued vouchers (CRIV) and the records that relate to the drug monitoring system.“(Aside from) speaking with persons who were in all of the pharmacies, we were not able to access the actual CRIV, (although) we wanted to see those. We wrote to all the heads of the hospital to ask if that information could be made available to the committee, (but) it has not been made (available),” Dr Persaud said.As one of the standing committees in Guyana’s Parliament, the PSCSS is tasked with examining any aspect of national life and making, in Parliament, recommendations for improvement. It has been so mandated by Article 119 of the Constitution of Guyana.The power of the PSCSS is reinforced by Standing Order 86 (4) of the Parliament of Guyana, which states that sectoral committees shall “in the exercise of their responsibilities, examine all policies and administration for each sector, to determine whether the execution of Government policy is in consonance with good governance and in the best interest of the people of Guyana.”Legislative powersDr Persaud has made it clear that, despite the recalcitrance thus far displayed, the administrators of the health sector have no chance of being able to to hide information from this committee. She is aware that she certainly has at her disposal the tools to ensure that requested information is forthcoming.She explained that, according to Standing Order 86, (5, B), the PSCSS can request the minister assigned responsibility for the sector to submit written or oral information, including Government documents and records, about any specific area of Government policy and administration.In addition, Standing Order 86, (5, B) gives the PSCSS the power to “summon persons to give evidence in accordance with the Legislative Bodies (Evidence) Act, Chapter 1:08 of the Laws of Guyana.”Dr Persaud detailed that the PSCSS has gotten responses that are “very, very scanty”, but she promised that the PSCSS would pursue the matter.“We do have a right, in terms of the committee, to access this information; but we’ve been asking for information, and it would seem as if we are asking for things that must be kept hidden,” she explained.She further disclosed that “the committee also has a mandate to engage the Minister of (Public) Health, to call the Minister of (Public) Health, (and) to call other entities which fall within its mandate to answer on policies, operations and performance.So you can expect that from the committee going forward. So whatever is not being given freely, they will have to provide it there to the committee.”Moreover, she promised that reports compiled by the PSCSS would have accompanying recommendations, and would be made public and tabled in Parliament. And importantly, they would be debated in Parliament.The PSCSS has been making visits to several hospitals. During an impromptu visit it made to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) on May 3rd, it had sought to vision the drugs’ bond to explore what was happening there, but was prevented from so doing by GPHC executives.Dr Persaud had subsequently raised concerns that the paucity of drugs stored in the bond had resulted in GPHC executives preventing the PSCSS from carrying out its constitutional mandate. She had also declared that the only areas that could be restricted from the PSCSS when on an official visit are areas under quarantine, or areas where there a medical emergency obtains.