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Govt to stop footing officials’ medical bills; to take out insurance policies

A smiling Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai.

In the wake of public criticism of a GUY$361 million on medical expenses for mostly government officials, the Guyana government plans to set up an insurance-based system to ensure that future bills are not funded exclusively by the State.

The announcement was made by Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo at a news conference held at Freedom House, the headquarters of the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Jagdeo said he spoke with President Donald Ramotar who informed him that he planned to change the policy. “He will move mainly to maybe a policy of insurance so that the charges against the Consolidated Fund will be limited,” he said.

Explaining the intended model, Jagdeo said if perhaps GUY$300,000 is spent annually on one insurance policy, that would be the extent of the exposure of the treasury. “I think that is a good policy and so he has recognised that this can’t continue and he has made it clear that he intends to change this and I spoke with him about it,” said Jagdeo.

The Former President remarked that benefits could not be taken away from constitutional office holders.

Asked whether the State should fund cosmetic treatment, Jagdeo agreed that “there are some issues that should not be funded by the State and I think the President has made it very clear that he intends to limit people’s access to the Consolidated Fund and the exposure of the treasury would only be to the extent of the insurance premium.”

Among those topping the list is the late Navin Chandarpal on whom GUY$116 million was spent for cancer treatment,  GUY$4.9 million for Attorney General Anil Nandlall’s medical intervention and GUY$2 million and GUY$1.3 million on dental treatment for Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai and Public Service Minister, Jennifer Webster respectively.

On his access to cash from the treasury when he was flown out on a private jet for medical treatment more than one year ago, Jagdeo said the state did not pay for the plane and he was yet to be refunded for the actual medical treatment. He bluntly refused to divulge details of those expenditures.