The resolution before the House for $25 million had its genesis in the Owen Arthur administration.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler offered this clarification today while speaking in the House of Assembly on a resolution which sought a government guarantee on a loan of $25 million from RBC Royal Bank Ltd for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“In fact the resolution before parliament today is a sovereign guarantee to facilitate the repayment of a bond borrowed under the last government. The bond came due and the QEH did not have a cent and the Ministry of Finance through paid the bond off by getting a loan from the RBC to pay it off. So when the honourable member is cascading down a path of political ignorance I will like to just pull him back and adumbrate his spectacular fall from grace. At the end of the day this is really a cleaning up operation,”
Correcting misunderstandings on provisions in the August budget, Sinckler said: “People are saying that in the last budget we proposed to cut the vote by $35 million. It is not true. I have made the point in 2012 -13 the QEH ended getting more than $200 million. Under normal circumstances the QEH budget that we give to them was $185 million. This contrasts effectively with the $120 million that the Barbados Labour Party give to the QEH in its estimates. If you are claiming that $185 is not enough in 2007 you were giving them $120 million.
“We are giving the QEH $50 million more than the BLP. You cannot accuse this government of trying to starve the QEH of resources. We said that the QEH would normally get $185 million. We told them that we will be brining them back to $185. You do the necessary reformulations and reorganisation to ensure that you get back down to $185 million, but additionally we said to the QEH look at those patients on the private side and what are the differentials between what they pay for private service in the QEH and what they pay in public sector.”
Sinckler told the House of Assembly that based on the calculations they found some startling differences as high as 75 per cent what one pays in private care and what one pays in the QEH for private care.
“We said while we would subsidize the private care in the QEH, the gap is too high and it needs to be brought closer. There is nothing unreasonable in that. You look around and see where you can cut down on excessive overtime, renegotiating contracts so you can get better service, pick another $10 or $15 million and that will get you the $35 million that you require. So in fact the QEH, would effectively end up with $200 million. One hundred and eighty-five from central government and $15 million on their only initiative. In fact, our transfer from Government will be cut by $15 million,” Sinckler said. (NC)