Oct 26, 2015 News
Seven former government officials received the lion’s share of government’s medical assistance last year, utilizing more than a third of the total allocation.
Government last year expended $144M in medical aid to 505 persons, with seven government officials receiving over $45M. The remaining amount was used to assist over 495 persons.
It works out to an average of $198,000 being spent on each of the 498 private individuals assisted by Government last year, while seven of its officials utilized an average of $6.4M each.
This information was made public on Thursday last, when the Auditor General’s report on national expenditure was made public.
Despite the glaring disparity between the levels of assistance provided to private individuals as against government officials, the Auditor General reported that relevant approvals for expenditure were presented for audit examination.
The Audit Office has since recommended that the Ministry formulate a policy with respect to the amount of medical help that should be granted to individual patients.
Among those ex-government officials who benefitted from government’s medical assistance set aside for the poor and vulnerable was former Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai.
Shortly before the May 11 General and Regional Elections, it was disclosed that Sukhai had several million dollars worth of work done to her teeth, an expense which was funded by the state using tax payers’ dollars.
She had defended the expenditure as an entitlement, a statement that led to much public outrage. The former Minister had also said that the information was confidential.
The report for the activities between 2012 and 2013 lists 942 persons from Regions 1 to 10 who received subsidized and full financial assistance for medical treatment.
Those persons received some $361.4M in assistance. Again, government officials received the lion’s share of the medical assistance programme.
It was also disclosed that ten cheques had been issued for some $4.2 in dental work.
Nine of those were for the former Minister of Amerindian Affairs Sukhai who utilized some $2.1M, the then Minister of Human Services Jennifer Webster used up $1.3M while the then Prime Minister Sam Hinds benefited from $28,240 and his wife Yvonne $788,880.
A total of $25,160 was paid for the other person who benefitted from dental assistance.
It was found too that the former Attorney General Anil Nandlall was also a beneficiary of the Government’s medical assistance scheme and it was reported that he racked up some $4.9M in medical expenses in September, 2012 in the United States.
Nandlall lists “medical support” as the diagnosis. He did claim to have repaid the money he received.
The former Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Ali Baksh also received medical assistance for a coronary artery bypass at a cost of $12.2M. This is in addition to $249,600 for his airfare.
Former President Donald Ramotar had promised a review of the medical assistance policy. There is however no evidence that this policy review was ever implemented.
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