Gov’t medical expense

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Solomon Islands National Parliament
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Some MPs clock up nearly $500,000 each on overseas health check-up

By Alfred Sasako

IT has been revealed that taxpayers forked out nearly $500,000 in medical and travel costs each time a Member of Parliament travelled to Australia for medical check-up.

The practice was discontinued earlier this year when the Prime Minister’s Office intervened, insiders told Island Sun.

The revelation comes as the Government struggles with drugs shortage at the National Referral Hospital which the Office of the Prime Minister said was due largely to a “management breakdown” and lack of internal coordination by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

“In many cases, there were no prerequisite referrals from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services nor were there confirmation of doctor’s appointment at the St Vincent Hospital in Sydney where these MPs were going for their medical check-ups.

“The paperwork was simply prepared and signed off by the Caucus Office. The Office of the Prime Minister simply returned the paperwork back to Caucus as there were no supporting documentations for such travel,” one insider said.

“In one case, the documents were sent back to the Caucus Office twice, because there were no supporting documentation such as an email from the doctor in Sydney confirming the appointment.

“Usually, the booking would show the cost of up to fifteen days in hotel accommodation in Sydney,” the insider said.

“We managed to bring down the cost to $290,000, although we believe this is still too high,” the insider said.

The insider said that prior to the intervention by the Office of the Prime Minister, the Caucus requisition for MPs’ travels for medical check-ups cost the taxpayers up to $500,000 each time an MP travelled to Sydney,

Island Sun understands the Minister for Infrastructure Development and MP for East Kwaio was the latest to visit St Vincent’s Hospital. He returned to Solomon Islands last week.

Meanwhile it has been revealed on social media discussions this week that apart from the CDF grants of $350 million this year, the Government is keeping quiet about an extra $10 million in discretionary funds from Taiwan.

The discretionary fund is handled by Prime Minister and no one else.

The person who put out the information is former Special Secretary to Prime Minister (SSPM) Andrew Muaki, claiming politicians were responsible for the NRH fiasco.

“My objective is to ensure politicians put to good use the $10Million ROC discretionary fund under PM. Secondly to blame RCDF for the crisis in order to bring home the message that politicians are the root cause of the mess.

“I am not surprised that the PM denied it’s a funding issue. They want to preserve the $10Million ROC fund and the $320Million RCDF for political objectives,” he said.

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