Construction of the specialty hospital remains stalled but government believes that the Auditor General’s records on spending towards the much-vaunted project will clear it of “misinformation”.
“As far as I know the Auditor General of Guyana is still defending our interest,” Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran told Stabroek News yesterday.
“A lot of preliminary work was done (on the Turkeyen location for the hospital)… Now there was some mischief. I don’t deem this ignorance, this is political mischief to undermine the social programme of the current administration by two people in part… (APNU MP) Miss (Annette) Ferguson and (APNU MP) Mr (Carl) Greenidge…to give the impression that monies were given and wasn’t being spent so something was amiss,” Ramsaran went on to say.
During this year’s budget debate, a $1.25B provision for the controversial hospital was cut by the opposition. A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had pointed to the government’s lack of dialogue on the opposition’s position that the formulation of the deal was not transparent.
In August this year Attorney General Anil Nandlall had told Stabroek News that work on the estimated US$18 million facility was expected to commence soon, as a consultancy contract was awarded to a local company to ensure government got “value for money”.
“The contract is going ahead, the company that was awarded the contract (Surendra Engineering of India) has already mobilized people but there had to be a consultancy contract to oversee the works on behalf of government …so that we get value for money. There was a delay due to getting the consultancy but it is sorted and as far as I am aware the works will begin,” he had said.
However checks at the site yesterday revealed that it remained at a standstill, the same since August 18th when this publication had spoken to Nandlall on the issue.
Ramsaran yesterday opined that the hospital budget allocation was cut because the opposition was misinformed about the works that were ongoing at the site even when it was cut from the budget “For example the fence that we had on the land we were putting it in order…we were patching it to save and at the same time the works done by the foreign company included very expensive, very expensive technical, very necessary preliminary works called the geotechnical survey,” he said.
“In other words we were driving piles before we could see the hump …So the $747 million, I think, which were expended initially went not to building but went to many things relevant, relating to building,” he lamented.
He said that once persons are aware of the technicalities they would understand that work was being done on the site in preparation for the actual construction of the hospital.
He blasted APNU and said that three members of the opposition were the leaders of the charge to have the specialty hospital budget allocation cut. As such the battle to have the monies allocated was not now a legal one but political.
“This is looking like political mischief by the PNC (People’s National Congress) now masquerading as A Partnership for National Unity”, he declared.
Nonetheless, he said that as “Plan B”, government continues to strengthen the Caribbean Heart Institute to continue giving cardiac care services to Guyanese which he said would have been a main focus of the specialty hospital.
Further, he said that he continues to be optimistic that construction could soon begin. “We are still at that stage and hopefully the legal aspects of it will be addressed and the construction can be restarted sooner rather than later”, he said.