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Jagdeo says ministerial health insurance policy “duplicitous”

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Written by Devina Samaroo

Though not condemning the initiative, former President, Bharrat Jagdeo said the move by the current administration to establish a health insurance policy for its Ministers is “duplicitous.”

“They (reduced) the medical benefits for former presidents in the new act…and now in the face of doing that, claiming they didn’t have money and they couldn’t afford it. Now we hear about a policy to send ministers now to Ireland for medical benefits, not the United States of America, but Ireland,” the Opposition Leader asserted when asked to comment on the development.

Jagdeo further noted that, “It is the duplicity of the government; the same government that claimed that it did not have money to pay public servants from a bankrupt treasury but found enough money to take a huge salary increase for themselves.”

State Minister Joseph Harmon had disclosed that the government is in the process of finalising a health insurance policy for ministers to cover countries such as Ireland.

The State Minister revealed that some ministers have already been flying out to Ireland to seek medical attention at their own expense. However, he said government is looking at creating an insurance policy for its ministers for future needs.

“Ministers have sought permission to travel to Ireland for medical treatment and so far those bills are dealt with by the ministers themselves,” he stated.

Harmon also explained why the ministers are going to Ireland instead of closer countries which also boast of excellent healthcare like those in North America. “The point is that if you are sick, you want to get what you consider to be the best possible medical facilities and in the opinion of the ministers who have gone, that is where they can get the treatment for the illness from which they suffer,” he stated.

Players in the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change coalition had been very critical of the previous Peoples Progressive Party administration for standing the medical expenses for several ministers.

One of the most infamous cases was the $2.1M spent on dental work for then Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai.

The introduction of a medical insurance policy comes at a time when several of the ministers have been ill including Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton; Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnarine; and Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder.

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