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Specialty hospital is first casualty of 2013 budget cuts

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Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran during the vote to cut the allocation. (Neilon A. Dias photo)

A GUY$1.25B earmarked for a specialty hospital was the first allocation to be cut from the 2013 budget during consideration of the budget estimates.

The opposition parties reduced the sum to zero after a brief period of drama over an APNU motion to cut the allocation was disallowed on the grounds that “one clear day” had not passed before it could be entertained as required by the Standing Orders.

The House ended up voting on the amendment tabled by the AFC on Friday. The opposition MPs had argued that the information provided by Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran and the reality on the ground differed. There was also a contention that documents previously presented to the House were at odds with the minister’s statements.

Finance minister Dr. Ashni Singh rose and sought to clarify the issue noting that there were two different contracts for the hospital, one for site preparation which was being funded locally and went to Bovell Construction and the other for the actual construction which went to Surendra Engineering Company and was being funded by the EXIM Bank of India.

Some $52.3M was paid to Bovell Construction as a mobilisation advance and for additional works while the EXIM Bank last December released some $746M to Surendra.

The opposition also echoed previous criticisms about the process surrounding the award of the contract to Surendra with queries also about its experience in that type of construction.

The AFC’s Moses Nagamootoo noted that the money from the EXIM Bank was a loan and they had a right to ensure the government was behaving in a responsible manner with the finances. He added that they could not vote any money for the project until they had satisfactory answers.

The US$18.1M hospital is to be located at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.