by Linda Straker
- Cancer and kidney pharmaceuticals and supplementary pension payments part of additional budgetary allocation
- Total approved EC$9,967,790
- Ministry of Health allocated to receive EC$2,139,646
Purchasing pharmaceuticals for patients requiring treatment for cancer and kidney as well as providing supplementary pension payments to government retirees are included in the supplementary estimate which was approved last week Friday by parliamentarians in the House of Representatives.
The total amount approved is EC$9,967,790.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell who also serves as Finance Minister, explained to the house that the amount required is in compliance with Section 23 of the 2015 Public Finance Management Act.
That piece of legislation provides for the approval of supplementary appropriations to meet additional requirements following a mid-year review during any financial year for which an appropriation bill has been approved. The supplementary estimate is to cover for the period 1 August 2019 to 31 December 2019.
Justifying the additional EC$2 million allocation to retired government workers, Dr Mitchell said many retirees are facing hardship. “So, understanding the hardship facing public officers who have already left the system and what they face personally and otherwise, and as a responsible and caring government, we have decided to take steps to alleviate those pains,” he said.
“The supplementary budget provides for EC$2 million as an advance payment to any pension resolution to retirees who join the public service in an established post after 22 April 1985 and served for 26 and two-thirds years, and also have attained the retirement age of 60 years,” he said.
“We are topping up the NIS pension funds to ensure that those retirees receive at least 70% of their last salary. In other words, Mr Speaker we do not have a dispute on pension, what we have is a dispute is what is being introduced as gratuity,” he said. He informed the members that the decision by the government to provide the supplementary pension payment is purely voluntary because his government believes retirees need the support before a final decision by court.
“This will not be a one-off payment but a rather a monthly commitment that will supplement the NIS pension received by pensioners who meet the criteria. In other words, it’s a top-up to the monthly payment which the NIS gives them,” the Prime Minister said, as he gave the assurance that there is specific administrative procedure that will support the payment that will be administrated by the Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry of Health is allocated to receive EC$2,139,646 and some of the money will go towards pharmaceuticals and salary for nurses. “EC$1 million will go for the treatment of cancer and kidney disease patients,” said Dr Mitchell. Informing the house that based on data there are more and more incidents of kidney failure in the island, he said that kidney treatment has become a real difficult one because the high cost of treatment is beyond the ability of most persons.