The Briceno administration came under attack this morning during a press conference hosted by the opposition, the United Democratic Party. The conference comes on the heels of the PUP’s first year in office with a look at how much has changed in the past twelve months. In opening the 2 ½ hour conference, the opposition said that they would be tackling issues of crime, citizen security and corruption. Leader of the Opposition harped on several issues including the government’s expenditure. In the first instance he criticized the payment of David and Ingrid Vega’s medical bills, amounting to over one hundred thousand dollars.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Leader of the Opposition: “We hear now of a situation where the government has agreed to pay for the medical bills of a former elected representative. Now on the surface of things there might be a – sorry? Well that’s the thing I’m not sure. I am not sure. I want to believe it’s the way you put it Fonso, it may be for the two of them because Dido Vega can’t pay no bill now. God bless him. And so it may well be that it is the hospital bill that was left haunting the wife who was also a client of the hospital and suffered from COVID-19. I don’t know that she was intubated but spent quite a number of days in the hospital as well. We don’t have any quarrel with the Vega family and we know that that time was very very much a time of turmoil but the Prime Minister owes this nation an explanation if you are going to contract $146,000 of the tax payer’s dollars to pay a bill like this. $14,000 a month and as you’ve heard me say in terms of COVID and the fight against COVID $10,000 could save a lot of those people that are dying at KHMH by buying the cocktails that are needed. So when you take $146,000 and you pay one person’s or maybe two person’s hospital bills can we not save the lives of others? What makes that situation one that requires that kind of investment ? Are those lives more important than the lives of our people who are dying on a daily basis by almost the dozen a day?
It was the Public Service Union (PSU) who first brought the issue to the forefront last week. Our newsroom had followed up on the reports of this matter involving the medical bills for the Vega couple. Here is how the Minister of Public Service, Henry Usher and the Minister of Health, Michel Chebat responded.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional Reform and Political Reform: “You want me to say that this was a family that almost lost a father and a mother and we are looking at saying that we shouldn’t have been paying those bills ? I find that hard to accept that if that is what they’re commenting on – and let me say this, let me segue a little bit because they were commenting on the COP26 and the cost of that delegation going over there but nobody said anything although Dean Barrow’s flight was only one to Miami to meet with Ashcroft he gave away $500 million dollars so that one flight cost Belize $500 million dollars. Let them talk about that one before we talking about COP26 or paying a bill for the Honorable David Vega, a man who served his constituency unfortunately he passed away from COVID that family his children almost lost their mother as well so I think it’s important and I really find it it hurts me to think that the PSU would be harping on that.”