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Jul 10, 2009

Prime Minister intervenes in K.H.M.H. crisis

Story PicturePrime Minister Dean Barrow stepped in today in the K.H.M.H. crisis that has been festering for more than three weeks, but if you thought that heads would roll in light of the countless allegations of corrupt practices, then think again because that is not about to happen, not any time soon. Flanked by the Minister of Health, Pablo Marin, who had nothing to say, the P.M. announced at a press conference this afternoon, that he was taking matters in his own hands and away from the K.H.M.H. Board. This comes on the heels of another round of revelations on Thursday by the hospital’s former Finance Director, Cecil Knowles. But while many were waiting to hear that the man at the centre of the storm, Dr. Ricardo Fabro, would be stripped of his post or at least suspended, instead Barrow announced more layers in the investigation. There will now be a Commission of Inquiry, an independents audit, mediation and possibly arbitration. All this before any action is taken.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“First of all structures and policies and procedures must be put in place as quickly as possible to try to help to fix the broken system and that’s the first aspect of the problem. The second aspect is that in the weeks, there were these allegations of corruption in the purchasing of pharmaceuticals at the K.H.M.H. and we need to get clearly and convincingly to the bottom of those allegations. The second involves looking back at what has happened in terms of the purchasing system and trying to determine if there was wrongdoing, the extent of the wrongdoing and who is culpable, who is to blame for whatever wrongdoing might be confirmed. I don’t know that there’s any force on earth that can stop corruption but my commitment and the commitment of the U.D.P. if to try to prevent it as much as possible. But failing that, to deal with it whenever it rears its ugly head.”

“Even after you made allowances for the fact that there would have to be differences in prices, that when you buy individually on a retail basis you will pay more than if you’re buying wholesale. Even after you made allowances for that difference, it was clear to me that there were some instances in which the difference in price was so huge as to, as I put it, lend color to the suggestion that there was funny business taking place. I felt that because the preliminary report did not point any finger on any member of the Board—I know that accusation had been brought about with respect to the Chairman, but the preliminary report did not in anyway suggest that the Chairman was involved in anything. Because the report seemed to focus on employees of the authority, I felt that my call to the board to deal with report and to deal with the people that on the basis of the report, the board might have found involved in wrongdoing.”

“Something has now happened that convinces me that I and the government must go the different direction. Yesterday there was a public allegation made against the chairman of the board by the former director of finance or I’m not sure what the title was. I want you all to understand clearly, I make no pronouncement or otherwise on what Mr. Knowles has said. Nobody must take me as accepting that there is validity in the charge that he has made, but the fact is that he has made a charge and right away, in my view, that makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for me with any credibility and the minister to leave it to the board to treat with the preliminary report and to treat now with this latest allegation. How will the board do this if the very Chairman is the subject of the allegations? There is then in my view, only one way forward that can satisfy me, that can satisfy the government and most important of all, that can satisfy the Belizean public. I’m going to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of these allegations.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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