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Opposition votes against $$ for Specialty Hospital, other projects

The opposition-controlled National Assembly has voted down budgetary provisions for the construction of a state-of-the-art Specialty Hospital for the second straight year.

The money for the facility to be built at Liliendaal was part of a GUY$1.3 billion allocation for regional and clinical services in the Ministry of Health’s budget.

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) proposed that the allocation for the Specialty Hospital not be considered in this year’s budget. 

When put to a vote in the Committee of Supply, the opposition prevailed with its 33 votes to the government’s 32. The amount also included money for doctors’ quarters, land and water transport, office furniture and equipment.

House Speaker, Raphael Trotman asked whether the line item containing allocations for the Specialty Hospital and other projects was considered in the sub-committee arrangement which was created Wednesday to resolve issues about allocations. 

APNU Chief Whip Amna Ally, stated prior to the vote on the Specialty Hospital that the party was open to the any discussion that the government wished to have on the issue at that 11th hour.” However, if the government is not too interested we are only too willing to go ahead with the vote under this line item”, she said.

Her opposing number Gail Teixeira , said that the issue was that an agreement would have been met  by 9 am the following day on the items which needed to be negotiated. However, the Opposition did not show up for such a meeting. She said that the party received an email from Ally indicating items which were not going to be approved by the Opposition, which included the Specialty Hospital, the Amerindian Development Fund and Community Policing. She said that Ally’s note gave no indication of negotiation    and on that basis the government has acted.

Carl Greenidge of APNU said that the preference would have been to vote on the items under the heading individually. He said that as regards the hospital,” we are not desirous to vote on that and any consensus would have to be built around that understanding”.

AFC leader, Khemraj Ramjattan said that he thought that the procedure would have been similar to the previous day when the two sides met and came to an agreement on contentious items in the budget. The hospital was listed along with several other items including doctor’s quarters, which he noted should never be voted against.

The sub heading, Regional and Clinical Services, was then put to a vote and opposed by the Opposition.