East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson yesterday accused the Davis administration of not prioritizing improvements at the Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama.
Thompson said the supplementary budget, which parliamentarians were debating in the House, removed a line item of $19 million for the hospital work.
“I recall prior to the election, members of the PLP in the front of the Rand Memorial Hospital raising concerns about the hospital,” he said in the House of Assembly.
“This was after the hospital was recommissioned by the FNM. We shared some of their concerns.
“… This is why we put $19 million in the budget to complete the process to put in place a new four-storey tower in Grand Bahama. A contract was signed by the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and the Beck Group to design a tower in Grand Bahama and in New Providence. I was there.
“… It was a wonderful moment for the people of Grand Bahama because the funds were allocated in the budget and a contract was signed for the design of the four-storey tower.
“It was also the consensus that because of the amount of funds already invested in the Rand Hospital, it would be better to complete a new hospital on the existing Rand site. It was, therefore, important to begin the process for the completion of the Rand in the soonest possible time.
“What will you tell the people of Grand Bahama now? [Are you going to] tell them that you have removed the funding to begin their new hospital without having a clear plan and timeline to replace it?”
However, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville said that the funds were removed because the work cannot be done in this budget year.
“The reason why it was moved is because immediately on coming to office, we went to assess where the former government was as it relates to the construction,” Darville said.
“As it stands today, you have minimal architectural drawings, most of them are preliminary drawings. There is no documented engineering studies.
“… And on top of it, we had a technical assessment done and they felt that within four to six months would be the time in order for us to even get the necessary plans together to present them to the Port Authority for approval to go to a tender process and go to bidding in order to award a contract.
“The fiscal year will be over and the $19 million could not be spent.
“So, what the Ministry of Finance did … was put an additional $5 million … in hospital and medical facilities, where the resources were put in place to allow the necessary preliminary works to be completed and the money would be reintroduced in the next budget cycle.”
In response to Darville, former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis noted that during the Christie administration, Darville promised a new Grand Bahama hospital to be completed in early 2017, but it never happened.
Darville admitted that to be the case, but also noted that Minnis did not deliver on his promises to Grand Bahamians.