$4B and counting

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$4B and counting

Ministry of Health racks up big COVID-19 spend in virus fight

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 25, 2020

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THE Ministry of Health and Wellness has so far exhausted $4 billion of its $5.6-billion income, with the bulk of it expended on drugs and personal protective equipment (PPE), permanent secretary in the ministry Dunstan Bryan has disclosed.

Speaking at last evening's virtual COVID Conversations from the health ministry, Bryan said since April, the ministry has received approximately $5.6 billion from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, with the largest portion being allocated in June.

He said, too, that the peak of the ministry's spend also occurred between June and July — the period in which the country's borders were fully reopened to both locals and tourists after the closure of air and sea ports in March.

Bryan outlined that the finance ministry in April dispensed $700 million — $1.8 billion in June and $1 billion each for July, August and September.

Drugs and PPEs accounted for $1 billion of the income, followed by regional transfers with $728 million, accommodation with $709 million, salary $650 million, medical equipment $200 million, infrastructure construction $141 million, motor vehicles $123 million, ministry's departments and agencies $110 million, and $58 million going to janitorial services.

A cash balance of approximately $1.5 billion remains.

“The total expenditure shows that overall, the plan that was designed for the purposes of mitigating and managing the epidemic is being executed and is being fully funded to a large extent by the resources from the consolidated funds. So, we are executing in accordance with our objectives of managing the pandemic,” said Bryan.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, meanwhile, stressed that the Government is committed to ensuring that what the health sector requires is provided.

“I can say with confidence that the Government has never really restricted the approach, based on the demands or the needs of the system, and the system has not been placed at a disadvantage because of resource constraints.

“We have been responsible in the approach in terms of the spend, I think, and as a consequence I think we have seen value in terms of the strategies that we have pursued,” said Tufton.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness had previously received $2 billion for the COVID-19 fight from the Ministry of Finance in the last financial year.

Last month, the Jamaica Observer reported that the health and wellness ministry reported receiving over $600,000,000 in donations between March 1 and May 31 to support the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The information was disclosed following an Observer Access to Information Act request for the monetary donations received by the ministry during that period; the donors and the amount donated; the areas of the ministry in which the funds were allocated; and a breakdown of the spending.

The ministry said it received donations amounting to $608,894,606; 48 per cent or $293.2 million of which was for medical equipment, 28 per cent or $172.2 million for goods, while 13 per cent or $78 million amounted to cash donations.

Food and beverages totalled $22.2 million in donations, services $12 million, and transportation $31.2 million.

The report, produced by the Health for Life and Wellness Foundation Limited, said 52 private sector entities donated $284.5 million in cash and kind, while 11 non-profit organisations donated $243.3 million.

Foreign companies donated $52.2 million, the Diaspora $202,500, the telethon hosted by the Government $27.1 million, while individual donations amounted to $1.5 million to make up the total amount.


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