Thursday, December 3, 2009

$1.8B Linden Hospital complex commissioned

AS the new state-of-the-art $1.8B Linden Hospital Complex in Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Berbice) was officially opened yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo reiterated his government’s commitment towards the development of the community.

President Bharrat Jagdeo addresses the commissioning ceremony.

The facility located near to the old MacKenzie Hospital Complex in Watooka, has been constructed with funding from the Health Sector Programme (HSP), a five year US$25.5M funding programme co-financed by the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as the administration continues to make important advances in the rebuilding of physical infrastructure in the health sector.

President Jagdeo, delivering the feature address, alluded to the importance of the facility, and said, “What you see here happening in Linden, the construction and commissioning of this hospital, is just part of a comprehensive plan that we have for the development of our country and all of its sectors.”

Outlining some of the challenges in conceptualising the national plan and its implementation, he said, “I wish to do so largely because if you are aware of where we want to take the country in the long term, then people can see themselves as part of this important development for the future”.

He alluded to the global economic crisis which has wiped out trillions of dollars of wealth across the globe, with millions of people losing their jobs and homes.

President Jagdeo said in a regional context, it has taken a devastating toll on the economies of countries in CARICOM, with Jamaica whose bauxite industry contributes to more than 50 per cent of its total merchandise export losing three of its four bauxite operations, and tourism arrivals across the region falling by some 20 per cent.

He observed that many of these countries also have a huge debt profile stating, “In Guyana’s case, we have the largest public sector budget ever in our history this year, 2009, and that trend is expected to continue”.

“We have a significant part of our budget, although we are approaching year-end, yet to be spent, so I have been putting significant pressure on some of my ministers and their ministries to spend the money in the budgets,” he disclosed.

He pointed out that the health sector budget has grown from $750M in 1992 to $12B today, and the country has managed to bring its debt to a sustainable level using just over 4 percent of revenue to service debt from 94 per cent of revenue when the administration took office.

He said the government has paid back over US$1.5B, insisting, “That is the kind of thing that has created the fiscal space in our country to increase spending.”

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