Crude oil prices continued to linger near the US$80 per barrel level on which this country’s budget is based yesterday.
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Couva hospital at advanced stage
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced that a package of health care goodies will soon be delivered to citizens across T&T. Patients who have been waiting more than three months for surgeries at hospitals will have their procedures done at private medical institutions, and the government will pay for it. This was previously announced by Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan last month.
Free hearing aids will be distributed to the hearing impaired and students needing spectacles will be given financial assistance to purchase them, she said. The PM made the announcement in an address at a top-off ceremony for the Couva Children’s Hospital in Preysal yesterday afternoon. In 11 months, a significant part of the construction of the hospital has been achieved by Chinese contractors, the Shanghai Construction Group.
The top-off ceremony held at the site is a Chinese custom observed when the last amount of concrete is to be poured into the foundation. Persad-Bissessar arrived late and said it was because she had a very important Cabinet meeting to discuss the delivery of promises made by the People’s Partnership in 2010. One of those promises was that her government’s legacy will not be in tall buildings but in hospitals and schools, she said.
The PM also said in national conversations throughout T&T, citizens identified health care as a priority. Listing some more goodies in store for citizens, she said between 2014 and 2018, 245 scholarships will be given out for tertiary education in various areas of specialised medicine. And the new hospital will be named by a child. She asked the approval of ministers present for a children’s competition for a name for the hospital.
The hospital will also have an adult ward and will partner with the Sick Kids Hospital of Toronto, Canada to have specialised surgical procedures done at the institution. “Children will no longer have to experience the stress and trauma of air travel.” The PM said the children’s hospital will be the only digital hospital in the Caribbean and South America. She interspersed her address with her announcement in Parliament earlier in the day about changes in the political system through the Constitutional Reform Bill.
The PM said if the Bill is passed T&T will the only country in the 54-nation Commonwealth that will have the right to recall MPs who are not functioning. The terms of a prime minister will be reduced from five to two and a system will be introduced called a run-off ballot. The two top candidates in any election will have a run-off to ensure that none of them represents a minority of people. The PM declined to answer questions from the media on the bill saying she was very tired after working long hours on it.
Chinese ambassador Huang Xingyuan said his government selected the best construction team, Shanghai Construction Group, and assured that the building “will conquer” an 8.0 magnitude earthquake as he responded to concerns that the hospital was located on a major earthquake fault line. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said a ministry team managed to convince university professors that the hospital will be built away from the fault line.