Health Service Authority situation questioned

George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin has questioned the reasons for an additional expenditure of nearly $10 million for the Health Services Authority.

He posed the query during his debate on the proposed Supplementary Appropriations Bill Monday,

Five supplementary output items were slated for the HSA, including $4.82 million as an equity investment to subsidize operation loss, and $3 million as an equity investment for working capital.

Since Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson had said when he tabled the bill that most of the supplemental expenditures related to Hurricane Ivan, Mr. McLaughlin questioned the outputs.

‘What did Hurricane Ivan do to cause the HSA to be in such a fine mess,’ he asked.

In the Government’s original 2004/2005 Budget, the HSA was projected to lose $4.5 million.

‘The figure is now $9,324,663, more than double the original estimate,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘What is the cause of this?’

Mr. McLaughlin acknowledged the bad situation of the HSA and said he did not expect all the problems would be resolved by now.

‘But we expect the Government would be more forthcoming with information.’

On the state of affairs at the HSA, Mr. McLaughlin said he had heard that at least five doctors had left the hospital since the beginning of the year.

‘Are our health services being compromised, or are they not?’ he asked. ‘Someone ought to tell us.’

Mr. McLaughlin also questioned an additional sum of $3.35 million slated for the Cayman Islands Insurance Company for an equity investment to subsidize the operating loss relating to premiums for seamen, veterans and pensioners.

Making it clear that he was not suggesting the benefits be taken away, Mr. McLaughlin said he still found the output item surprising.

‘No one is going to tell me that someone in the Financial Secretary’s office wouldn’t have known this was going to be incurred, and yet suddenly it appears here,’ he said, speaking of the Supplementary Appropriation Bill.