Opposition votes down funding for Specialty Hospital, other regional and clinical services

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By Kurt Campbell

Health Minister, Bheri Ramsaran.
Health Minister, Bheri Ramsaran.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Combined Parliamentary Opposition, using its one seat majority has proposed the disapproval of the $910 million allocated for the specialty hospital in the National 2014 Budget.

This disapproval also saw monies for other regional and clinical services being disapproved. Those services included the Ministry of Health buildings, doctor’s quarters, land and water transport, Other Furniture and medical equipment.

This was consequential in keeping with the Chief Justice ruling that the Opposition could not cut the budget but can either disapprove or approve.

The Specialty Hospital was lumped with the other services and as such when put to the vote, all suffered the same fate.

All 33 opposition members voted against the funding. Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman explained that the votes were only proposals and when members sit in plenary, a final decision will be made on the sums.

On Wednesday, April 09 the Speaker announced that the Opposition can only propose amendments after which it would be up to the government to accept or reject the proposal.

The proposals will be examined in a sub – committee that the Speaker proposed be established to consider the proposed amendments to the Budget. The committee comprises four members of the opposition and three members of the government and is chaired by the Speaker.Parliament

Opposition Chief Whip Amna Ally had indicated prior to the vote that the combined opposition was willing to pass the other funding that was in the same category with the Specialty Hospital.

The Speaker indicated that it could not be separated.

In 2013 the Opposition parties slashed the budget for the Specialty Hospital. The $1.2 Billion project was slashed to zero as the Opposition parties pressed for greater transparency and accountability in the award of the contract for the hospital and its construction.

It appears the Opposition is still of the view that the project lacks transparency and accountability.

GPHC, Health Ministry monies approved 

Meanwhile, in spite of questions that sometimes indicated the Opposition’s objection to spending in some areas, the House unanimously passed the allocations for the Ministry of Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran and his respective representatives were grilled specifically on monies set aside for training and infrastructural upgrades. The Minister did his best to provide answers and where it was not readily available promises were made to have the answers provided at a later time.

The GPHC was allotted $5.3B while the Ministry of Health – Administration received a total of $850M. Opposition members paid much attention to the procurement of drugs, equipment and transportation services – ambulances.

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh had pointed out in his budget presentation that in 2014, $21.5 billion has been allocated towards the sector for the achievement of its strategic goals. Of this amount, $2.4 billion is budgeted for construction and upgrade of health care facilities countrywide including the Port Kaituma District Hospital, Linden Hospital Complex, Kwakwani Hospital, the acute care facility at the National Psychiatric Hospital, and the Georgetown School of Nursing.

Some $382.7 million is allocated for the purchase of medical equipment and $117 million is allocated for the purchase of 12 ambulances which represents a 40 percent increase in the national fleet.

In relation to primary and specialised health training, over $428 million has been allocated to train 20 additional post graduate residents and upgrade over 4,000 providers.

The sum of $50 million has been allocated to commence the extension of the maternity facility at the Georgetown Public Hospital to ensure increased bed capacity while $22.6 million is allocated for the establishment of maternity waiting homes in Lethem and Bartica to cater for antenatal high-risk mothers.

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