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(SNO) — As the debate rages over whether the Owen King European Union (OKEU) Hospital should or should not be privatised, Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre said that at the time his party lost the general elections in June 2016, it was contemplating three options for managing the hospital with privatisation not one of them.
“There is a document that outlines clearly how the St. Lucia Labour Party intended to go through with the commissioning of the Owen King European Union Hospital,” Pierre said.
He did not identify the three options, however he said that at the time his party lost the general elections his administration had not made a decision on which of the three options, to use because his administration was still in discussions with social partners.
“We never contemplated having health services for profit,” Pierre said, adding that the document with the three options was presented to the House of Assembly. According to him, along with the options, were proposals on how to finance the operations at the hospital.
Pierre believes that the government has put itself in a position in which it cannot back out of, simply because the government did not sit and contemplate on what it found when it formed the government in June 2016.
Government has since denied being in a situation that it cannot back out of. In fact, yesterday, the political attaché to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet made it clear that while there has been much talk about privatisation of the OKEU Hospital “there has been nothing definitive about the system of management for the OKEU Hospital”.
“There have been many pronouncements about the way forward for the government whether it’s a PPP, privatisation or whatever. According to the information that has been put out by the government, consultations and discussions on the way forward are still not final. There is no legislation, there is no final answer on how the OKEU Hospital is going to be managed,” Norbert Williams said.
But while Williams is right about no definitive statement from the government regarding a management style for the OKEU Hospital, government as well has yet to make a definitive statement saying it would not pursue privatisation of the hospital as an option. As a result, the opposition to privatisation of the hospital is so high, that a small group of placard-bearing protesters gathered today, Sept. 19 outside the hospital to demonstrate against its privatisation.
The group did so in the hope of bringing that message across to representatives of the European Union Court of Auditors on island to monitor, evaluate, manage and make an accounting of programmes funded under the European Union/African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP/EU) Development Co-operation.