The medical supplies for the Ministry of Health (MOH) are currently stored at Central Medical Stores (CMS) located in Ladyville, but MOH is hoping to construct a new CMS building in Belmopan. Reports are, however, that MOH is planning to use funds from the National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund Reserve, which is managed by the Social Security Board (SSB). While MOH had informed the Ministry of Finance about it plans, it failed to inform SSB. As it turns out, SSB only got wind of these plans through the “grapevine.” Today, the Chief Executive Officer of SSB, Dr Colin Young, confirmed to the media that SSB still has not gotten any request from the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Colin Young – Chief Executive Officer of Social Security Board: “To date the Social Security Board has not received any proposal, any application, any request whatsoever from the Ministry of Health regarding the medical storage facility. We heard about that I guess the same time you did as it relates to that. I do want to make this point quite emphatically and we have spent two years doing this all over the country and that is that NHI is not Social Security contributors money. The funds for the NHI is annually given via subvention to NHI and it is managed by the Social Security Board but once the money arrives at Social Security it then falls within the purview of The Social Security Board and it has to go through the process but one of the things that we have been hearing in the media, especially in lue of the recent increases in contributions is that SSB is giving out grants for this. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact if you look at section seventy-four eight of the NHI regulation it is very specific about the fact that the money from NHI cannot be mixed or mingled with SSB funds or vice versa and we have maintained that but to answer your question again we have not up to today gotten absolutely no kind of request form anybody regarding that.”
The Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, in a letter to Prime Minister Dean Barrow said, quote, “NHI funds can only be used for NHI services or NHI related expenses.” End quote. Furthermore, he pointed out that the construction of the building does not fall within any of those categories. The Prime Minister responded, via another letter, by stating that the decision would be up to the Social Security Board, but ended his letter by saying that in his view, quote, “MOH ought not to make any such application”. End quote. Today, when the media caught up with Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, he reiterated that the Ministry of Health should not apply to SSB for the funds.
Joseph Waight – Financial Secretary: “The Ministry of Health approached the Ministry of Finance for approval to enter into a contract for the construction of a warehouse. The letter stated that there were identified funds from the NHI Reserve Fund which is under the management of the Social Security Board. Our response was that we have no objections to the issuance of the contract. The tenure was in order, the value for money, they did what they were supposed to do and we also then said that we understand that money is being sourced from the Social Security Board, it shouldn’t be construed or intended. It is not our place to give or to decide on the use of Social Security’s money. The Prime Minister basically said pretty much the same thing and in his view the Ministry should not approach the Social Security Board and that should put an end to that story.”
The building is expected to cost almost two million dollars.