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NHI is a transformational initiative for healthcare system – NOW Grenada

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by Linda Straker

  • Universal healthcare provides healthcare and financial protection to all residents 
  • Focus of 2-day conference will be to listen to community, public education, and information sharing
  • Government has entered into a 9-month contract with JIPA as of 29 October

Dr Kester Nedd, CEO of the Miami-based JIPA (Joint Independent Provider Association) Network, has described his contract with government to engage in broad-based consultations with all the relevant stakeholders to implement a national health insurance system, as a transformational initiative as Grenada embarks on providing universal health for citizens.

“Today we are beginning the steps of universal health coverage for all,” Nedd told participants attending a 2-day conference where the vision of the JIPA Network is being presented to stakeholders.

While JIPA is formally introducing its brand and ideas to the Grenadian community, the focus of the event at the Radisson Convention Centre will be to listen to the community, public education, and information sharing. “Change can only be successful when we listen to others,” he told participants from the medical fraternity, Trades Union Council, private sector, insurance industry, political organisations, civil society organisations, churches, and government officials.

JIPA Vision

Explaining that National Health Insurance is not a band-aid to fixing the current challenges, Nedd said that the initiative is part of a wide concept that will eventually result in the transformation of Grenada’s healthcare system.

“Most important, there is a need for political will. We need that kind of support as part of the governance structure,” he said while pointing out that political will is significant to achieve universal healthcare.

Universal health coverage (UHC) is a healthcare system that provides healthcare and financial protection to all residents. Grenada is committed to achieving UHC, which means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

Dr Francis Martin, Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for primary healthcare said that UHC cannot be achieved if there is no reform. “If healthcare remains the same, government will have to make some hard changes and reallocate funds,” he told participants while presenting on the current state of healthcare in the country.

Coss section of participants at JIPA conference

Besides local experts, the event also features international speakers who are sharing lessons learned from the NHI Bahamas, BVI and Turks and Caicos.

Government has entered into a 9-month contract with JIPA valued between US$800,000 and US$1.5 million to complete the process for implementation of the National Health Insurance programme.

The contract came into effect as of 29 October 2019, and builds on the work already started by the University of the West Indies and other stakeholders.

Grenada received US$653,916 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish the secretariat of the NHI and to undertake initial preparatory work. The decision of government to introduce a National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

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Caribbean & World

International Anti-Corruption Day | United Nations

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Anti-Corruption Campaign-UNDP Sudan Organized a Drawings Contest with the Faculty of Fine and Applied Art. Photo: UNDP South Sudan

On this International Day, I urge people everywhere to continue to work on innovative solutions to win the battle against corruption and to ensure that precious resources serve the peoples of the world.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

United against corruption for development, peace and security

Every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP. In developing countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.

To mark International Anti-Corruption Day, we will leverage the recognition of the multi-year “United Against Corruption” theme and will continue to support the 2030 Agenda, which forms the backbone of the campaign. In addition, the campaign will also have a youth component.

 

Corruption – An impediment to the Sustainable Development Goals: describes how corruption negatively affects us all.

Corruption – #YouthForJustice leading the change: describes the importance of empowering and mobilizing youth to fight for a corruption-free world.

United Against Corruption – Take action – Lead the change – Be the change: stresses that it is not enough to just know about corruption but that we need to take action, hold leaders accountable and become integer leaders ourselves.

 

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Government refutes allegations of closure

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The Ministry of Finance has observed a statement purported to be issued by Andall & Associates Inc. that suggests a decision taken by its management to close operation is in some way directly related to actions taken by the government.

It must be noted that the decision taken by the management of any entity to close its operations is purely managerial in nature and should not be attributed to government.

The Government of Grenada wishes to categorically deny this claim and empathises with the many workers that may be affected as a result. It is important to establish that tax compliance is the responsibility of all taxpayers and that government has no authority in law to waive taxes.

Historically, government has made special arrangements and has worked with clients/taxpayers to allow them the opportunity to settle their legal obligations to the state via payment arrangement and other means. We, therefore, use this opportunity to congratulate the taxpayers who have worked and continue to work with the government to meet their responsibility.

However, there are instances where clients/taxpayers blatantly refuse to settle their tax obligations, some of which are collected from the ordinary Grenadians who purchase items and pay taxes like that of the VAT, that must then be remitted to the Inland Revenue Division, Ministry of Finance. As a responsible government, the collection of monies from the working class and the failure to pay over the same to the government while business owners enrich themselves cannot and will not go unchecked.

The government, therefore, encourages all taxpayers to file and pay their respective taxes to the Inland Revenue Division and further discourages any attempts to engage in any fraudulent or criminal activities at the Customs and Excise Division.

The government remains committed to engaging clients or taxpayers on the necessary payment arrangements that would allow entities to be in good standing with their tax obligations.

GIS

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Report of TAMCC settlement labelled fake news by union

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Workers led by the Public Workers Union refuted settlement claims released on social media
  • Sixth week of protest involving 243 permanent workers employed by college council

A report circulating on social media to have stemmed from the Interim Chairman of the College Council, Augustine Vesprey, that a settlement has been reached between the Public Workers Union (PWU), and the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) Council has been described as fake news.

The ongoing protest involving 243 permanent workers employed by the college council, is over the none payment of increments amounting to over $6.1 million over the past six years.

A release dated 6 December 2019 and entitled “Payment of increments to TAMCC staff” stated in part that the council had on 6 December 2019, presented the unions with a formal written offer wherein council will pay the $6.1 million increment in three tranches:

That the first scheduled payment will be made by 30 December 2019 in the sum of $1.5 million

The schedule for the payment of the other tranches will be made by 30 March 2020 upon the receipt by the council of the completed manpower and financial audit reports. These reports will become the basis for an understanding of the available financial leverage and, for ensuring prudence in the scheduling and payment of the remaining tranches.

Now into their sixth week of protest, affected workers led by the Public Workers Union (PWU), refuted the claims made in the release. “We are now seeing that there is a letter on Facebook stating that a settlement has been reached. We are not aware of any settlement. As a matter of fact, the last meeting that we attended with TAMCC, the chairman took this as a joke and to us, he was playing games,” said PWU President, Rachel Roberts.

Roberts said the union proposal still stands in that they are willing to accept their payment in three tranches starting with a $2 million payment in December and the other two tranches in 2020 at a reasonable time. “We went to a meeting with TAMCC and they indicated that at this time they can only pay $1.5 million. We indicated that what they will agree to would be a settlement in three tranches and the three tranches must mean that $2 million must be paid by December and the other $4 million, we would be able to accept it in 2020 in a reasonable time, so we didn’t give them a time frame,” she said.

The PWU president said the union is not clear as to when the next meeting will take place with the council on this outstanding matter and is also not convinced that the council’s declaration that they can only pay $1.5 million came as a result of consultation with cabinet. “The chairman indicated to us that TAMCC is only able to pay $0.5 million. When we stood our ground and we pressured the chairman he then went outside to make a phone call — but we are not certain that a true phone call was made because as he said he went outside to call the cabinet to determine what it is that the cabinet has decided to pay — and then he came back in and said the cabinet has decided that they will put in $1 million, but we are not certain that we can take his word for gospel.”

Meanwhile, President of the Lecturers Association at TAMCC, Adunni Johnson, said the lecturers will continue with the industrial action but he remains hopeful that a solution can be had very soon. He stated that the issue is much bigger than just a financial one, but also deals with the management of the college.

“The issue is not just a financial issue, the financial issue is just the icing on the cake but what led to the breakdown because there is little or no management at the college, so at present, we have to be hopeful but we remain between a rock and hard place,” said Johnson.

Johnson said it remains unclear if a report was submitted by the council to cabinet. Telephone calls to the Interim Chairman went to voicemail.

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