Government still in talks on health scheme for MPs

Solomon Islands National Parliament
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THE Government is still in discussions on whether to pull the plug on the Health Care Medical Scheme for members of Parliament, wives and dependent children under Parliament or Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

This is because the budget comes under the Public Entitlement Commission (PEC) in the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

PEC had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Mustard Seed International April 1, 2020 to provide comprehensive medical support to all 50 MPs and dependents.

However, some members of the Opposition Group have raised concerned over the administration and operation of the scheme by Mustard Seed.

Chairman of Public Accounts Committee, Douglas Ete told officials of OPMC during the enquiry of the 2022 Supplementary Bill 2022 in Parliament last week that Clerk to Parliament has written to Mustard Seed on number of occasions to pay one sick member of Opposition, but it is unable to pay.

Ete said figure runs from $200,000 for medicine.

He decides to leave the issue to the Parliamentary House Committee to deal with it.

However, Secretary to Prime Minister, Dr Jimmie Rodgers said discussion being looked at whether all support of MPs not located at national parliament.

However, Rodgers said the issue they need to look at is efficiency and effectiveness and speed within which because Health is a big ministry.

“If it sits there is okay, unless they have dedicated personnel, you could go into delays.

“Say for instance the whole area sits in National Parliament because it is for Parliamentarians, it must actually be a better spot,” he said.

Rodgers said it is very simple they can train one or two people on policies and procedures to operate out of here like a self-insurance or reinsurance.

“We have to look at the legal mechanisms.

“But when that is done, I am fairly confident then that can work better,” he said.

Rodgers said they will keep you inform of that process.

He said if that is done, they will need to provide a bill in November siting of Parliament for the mechanism.

So far under the scheme, two Members of Parliament, late Titus Fika and Minister of Culture and Tourism, Bartholomew Parapolo and Speaker of Parliament, Patterson Oti were supported under it.

Rodgers said from his understanding Mustard Seed is not an insurer but a health care provider.

He said but the fact Government paid premium put it close to an insurer.

In the meantime, Transparency Solomon International has also questioned the scheme and urged the Opposition and Independent group to initiate an investigation on it because tax payers’ money is injected into it.