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Mar 31, 2023

Proposed Budget for Medical Supplies, Pharmaceuticals Not Enough

During last week’s budget debate, Albert Area Representative Tracy Panton questioned the budget in terms of the allocation for medical supplies and medication to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. According to the draft estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2023/2024, medicine and technology for last fiscal year were over twenty-five million dollars, but the estimate being presented for this year is over nine million dollars less. Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard explains that the tender cycle is split between two fiscal terms, hence the reason why there will always be a need to return to the House of Representatives for additional finances.


Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness

“The member for Albert was being a bit disingenuous because when you look at the history of medical supplies budget, it has always been around that range.  The way the tender cycle is and that’s one of the reasons why I mentioned from the late last year that we worked on making the change in the cycle, because you would find that the tender cycle goes within two fiscal periods and so you have to budget within the fiscal space and at the same time there will always be need. Let us not shy away from that; there will always be need for us to go back to the house for additional funding and I made that absolutely clear to cabinet, to the Ministry of Finance that we will have to come back. Some of these monies that are approved are also to cover some of the previous outstanding debts that are there in terms of medical supplies. We are trying to fix that system. We are trying to make sure that and this is the reason why we have the tender process taking place right now. In fact, the review is being done, bids have been submitted, the review is now being done. Right after the Easter, we should have those finalised. The hope is that we can get our final review done before the end of April so that it can go to the Ministry of Finance, to the Contractor General for approval and then we sign contracts no later than – I had hoped that we would have been able to sign contracts from the end of March, but that was not possible. But we want to ensure that at least, the latest, mid-May we can sign contracts so that when the tender cycle finishes in soon, those supplies are already bringing in their items for the new tender and then we go back in October and do the re-forecasting so that we can then put it for the end of December period that we really want it to be. We want to ensure that when we present the budget it is based on the exact needs of our health system. Remember, we provide for K.H.M.H., we provide for all regional bodies, so there will always be need for us to go back. So she may have a point, and I agree that the funding stated in the budget may seem to be a limited amount, but it is the way the process works and we are working to ensure that we can look at the needs that we have as a ministry in terms of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals and as I said, more likely within the year, we will have to go back for further funding to be able to support the rest of the fiscal year.”

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