The Government has announced that Trevor Thomas has been relieved of his duties as Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Public Health, effective March 1, 2017.
The move was revealed by Minister of State Joseph Harmon at a post-Cabinet press briefing earlier today.
Last month a Board of Inquiry (BOI) into allegations of mismanagement and malpractices in the procurement of pharmaceuticals at the Public Health Ministry recommended in its report, the removal of Thomas as PS. Thomas has served in the position since 2015.
“There was a recommendation that the PS be removed and with effect from March 1, the PS has been removed” Minister Harmon said, adding that Thomas will still remain in the Public Service.
The Minister explained that for the time being, the Deputy Permanent Secretary will act in the position until a substantive PS is appointed. However, the BOI report also recommended that Deputy Permanent Secretary Colette Adams be censured and disciplined for “breach/neglect in the performance of her duties”.
Minister Harmon noted too that there are several other “consequential recommendations” that were made in the report and Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence has started acting on some of these recommendations.
“She has gone around to some of the unit where procurement is taking place and seen for herself what is happening and therefore you can expect some radical changes taking place” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, the report calls for the Finance Manager’s contract not be renewed and the immediate firing of a Public Health Ministry staff who leaked insider information to a Trinidadian company.
The BOI was established by the government in November of last year to investigate allegations of the unauthorized disclosure of information, mismanagement and malpractices in the procurement of pharmaceuticals.
The BOI report states that Thomas failed to act on information provided by a Health Ministry official who disclosed to him that another employee was providing inside information to the Trinidadian company in relation to a bidding process.
In its investigation, the BOI facilitated in-camera hearings and pointed out in its report that Thomas was “willfully deceptive in his testimony”.
“He made inconsistent and deceptive statements during his testimony. The board finds that the inconsistencies were sufficiently material to affect the truthfulness and accuracy of his testimony,” the report stated.
As a result, it was recommended that, “The Permanent Secretary Mr. Trevor Thomas should be removed from the Ministry of Public Health due to his inability to effectively carry out the mandate of the ministry.”