Gov’t allocates additional funds for politicians’ health


THE 50 members of Parliament are allocated an extra $4.5 million on top of the $3 million under National Parliament, to refer them for medical treatment abroad.

The $4.5 million is part of $6 million under the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet in the 2023 budget.

The other $1.5 million is for medical referral for constitutional post holders and permanent secretaries.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare confirmed this when asked by Leader of Opposition, Matthew Wale, during the Committee of Supply of the 2023 Appropriation Bill 2022, in Parliament on December 12.

Sogavare said OPMC picks up on the allocation because the $3 million is for local assistance.

He said the Mustard Seed International Health Insurance does not pick up on pre-existence cases of MPs.

Mustard Seed has signed a five-year agreement with the Parliamentary Entitlement Commission in 2021, to assist MPs to seek medical assistance with any medical practitioners and they can reimburse the costs.

However, Sogavare said Mustard Seed did not follow the original arrangement after it opened their own clinic, which caused revolt to MPs.

He said Mustard Seed follows the principles of insurance, although it is not an insurance company.

Island Sun understands there are only two licensed brokers under the Insurance Act (Cap.82) namely Pacific Insurance Brokers and United Risk Services Ltd.

Bred Bank Solomon is the only agent licensed under the Act.

Sogavare said hopefully in 2024, the Government will review the arrangement and PEC to lead it to improve the scheme.

However, he said Mustard Seed has also made an arrangement with Saint Luke hospital in Philippines for referral of MPs.

He said a team will be sent to Philippine for firm up the arrangement to allow MPs to seek their medical referral there.

Opposition Leader Wale asked about the report commissioned by Minister of Finance, Harry Kuma for Controller of Insurance, Dr Luke Forau to look at the Mustard Seed scheme.

Kuma said he was aware of that Controller of Insurance seek authorization to do some kind of investigation and assessment as to whether that service insurance scheme in nature or just another health care scheme.

He said that was still early this year, but no findings or report given to him by the Controller of Insurance.

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