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Jan 29, 2008

P.M. defends terms of U.H.S. sale

Story PictureThe money required for the laptops may seem steep but it’s chump change compared to the thirty-three million plus that G.O.B. was on the hook for with its guarantee of the Universal Health Services debt. Today Prime Minister Musa defended the deal under which the bank guarantee was abolished but a different kind of financial commitment was made to the new owners of U.H.S.

Prime Minister Said Musa
“The debt has been settled with the Belize Bank, the people of Belize are under no obligation for that debt. That as you recall was the first controversy, back then when we gave the guarantee to keep the hospital open. That matter has been settled. The debt has been paid whether it is thirty-odd million or forty million, whatever it was, it’s completely paid off. The government guarantee has been released, has been cancelled. That’s point number one. The second thing yes, we have been spending millions of dollars every year to assist people with very serious health problems to go abroad whether it be to Merida, to Guatemala, to the United States, I can think of several examples of where it has cost this country hundreds of thousands of dollars because we consider life precious. And we have yes, entered into an agreement, a memorandum of understanding whereby we providing fee for services up to three hundred thousand dollars a month. My understanding is that it will be a fee for services up to three hundred thousand dollars.”

Janelle Chanona
“Knowing how controversial it has been, why not seek public approval or at least take it to the public first to say we are considering this, what do you think, knowing it is a hot button issue?”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“Well, a government is there to govern, and you can’t wait to provide health services to people till we have further consultation and then how do we determine that? Have a referendum you mean, on that issue?”

Janelle Chanona
“No, I mean, just seek public approval sir.”

Jules Vasquez
“Take it to the national assembly.”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“Well we do intend to take it to the National Assembly if it has to go beyond the one year. We are fully cognizant of what the law says you know. That anything over five million dollars commitment requires the approval of the National Assembly. We are saying that for the first year, the Government had the authority; I had the authority to give that commitment for the three point six million. Obviously the next Government, and I believe it will be our Government, will take this matter to the National Assembly for further approval if necessary because the present thinking is that it may be required for up to five years.”

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