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Protesters demonstrate outside OKEU Hospital while EU auditors visit

Image of The new Owen King - EU Hospital

A small group of placard bearing protesters gathered yesterday outside the Owen King EU Hospital (OKUEH) to demonstrate against the government’s health care policies.

One of the protesters, well-known social advocate Catherine Sealys, said they were demonstrating because the European Court of Auditors has dispatched a team here to ascertain the value of the hospital.

“This has come about because of the government’s intention to privatise the hospital,” she stated.

However, she noted that “the intention behind building the OKEUH with money belonging to banana farmers under Stabex was to provide better health care and improve on services that are accessible at Victoria Hospital.”

“The intention was simple – replace Victoria Hospital,” Sealys explained.

She recalled that the government has indicated through the Prime Minister and other ‘sources and means’, the intention to privatise the hospital.

“The EU is not very pleased with that action, so therefore they are auditing the hospital with a view to recovering the money that was spent,” Sealys said.

She stated that “for the past 30 years Saint Lucia has been getting aid from the European Development Fund and auditors have never been here.”

“Saint Lucia has always accounted for monies and for aid received from the European Union. The fact that they are even coming to Saint Lucia is an event in itself.

“It speaks to a bigger problem and we are here to make sure that when they pass to go to the hospital, they will know that Saint Lucians have not agreed with the government and the Prime Minister to privatise this hospital,” Sealys declared.

She asserted that privatisation will mean that people will not have the means to afford health care.

On Tuesday, the Office of the National Authorising Officer (NAO) issued a statement asserting that that the presence of Representatives of the European Union (EU) Court of Auditors, is an integral part of the Process of Monitoring, Evaluation, Management and Accounting of programmes funded under the European Union/African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP/EU) Development Co-operation.

The statement noted that the last mission of the EU Court of Auditor’s was in January 2017.

“At that time, the Office of the NAO, along with relevant stakeholders, facilitated the verification exercise of the Mocha Housing Project. The auditor’s expressed satisfactory implementation of the tender and contractual arrangements related to the Infrastructural design and works of the Mocha Housing project,” it stated.

According to the statement, the current visit of the EU Court of Auditors is “a standard practice” in keeping with the principles of accountability and transparency.

“The objective of the audit is to ensure that EU funds are correctly accounted for and spent in accordance with the relevant rules and regulations. The auditors will engage in reviewing information related to the design, construction and supply of equipment to the New National Hospital, otherwise known as the OKEU Hospital,” the statement said.

1 Comment

  1. For the last couple years in St.Lucian politics, ‘it’s never over till the fat lady sings.’
    Now she has found some stupid excuse to try to embarrass the present Administration
    but it wont happen.Keep braying lady,all is and will be alright with this Country;thanks to goodwill. .

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