By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has revealed that cabinet decided to use the money allocated for the construction of Guyana’s first Specialty Hospital for the improvement of primary health care across the country.
At a post cabinet media briefing on Wednesday, June 17, at the Ministry of Presidency, Minister Harmon could not say definitively if the APNU+AFC government has abandoned the project, which commenced under the previous administration; however he explained that a consultancy firm will be tasked with compiling a comprehensive report on the status of the hospital, after which a decision will be made on the way forward.
According to Harmon, government is looking to use the US$14M balance of the US$18M loan from Exim Bank to improve health care at other hospitals in Guyana.
“The current thinking of the administration is that once those sums of money are available, that it will prefer that the monies be spent in other areas that has to do with primary health care…We believe that the delivery of health care services to the people is much more important in this stage of our development than what we call medical tourism,” Harmon told the news conference.
While in the Opposition, the APNU+AFC were never in support of the Specialty Hospital, by voting against its funding in the National Assembly.
In September 2014, former Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon had revealed that construction at the Hospital at Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown was halted after a major fraud was uncovered.
He told reporters that that the move to suspend construction on the facility resulted widely from the delay in timelines and inadequate accountability for public funds by the contracting firm – Surendra Engineering Company Ltd (SECL) out of India.
He claimed that SECL had issued to the Guyana Government a forged document purporting to have emanated from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT).
At that time, the PPP government promised to pursue criminal charges against the company to recover unaccounted public funds to the tune of US$4 million which was given to the company.