Minister Lee: For the health of our population, it was the right thing

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Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Emil Lee

 

PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor Emil Lee gave a brief update on the status with the hospital in Wednesday’s, April 5, Council of Ministers Press Briefing.

He informed that a press release was sent out that a settlement was reached between SZV and VAMED. “So with that settlement, the lawsuit, which was impeding the progress of the construction of the new General Hospital has been removed. So therefore progress has begun now on restarting the conversations with financiers,” Minister Lee said.

“We were at the stage with searching for financing for the hospital. Those discussions had stopped due to the court case, and those discussions are now starting again, re-engaging the contractor, who had been involved in the design process, and had reached a certain phase in that development, where they required feedback, and again due to the court case that has stopped, and they’re being re-engaged in terms of how we’re going to move forward with the project,” the Minister explained.

“In the public, there’s been some discussions and this is a topic that was touched on in parliament. When we made an evaluation the parties involved had the discussion about should we settle or not. On the one hand, there was a discussion about: ‘we didn’t do anything wrong.’ The process was a good process. We believe the judgment from the courts was flawed, and therefore perhaps from an ego perspective, or perhaps to show that we have done the right thing, to continue the lawsuit to demonstrate. That would be emotionally satisfying, but when you look at the business case, and you look at the needs of the community, in our opinion, anything that delivers the hospital sooner is financially responsible,” Minister Lee stated.

“Because in all of the situations, when you looked at the different scenarios, if you continued with the appeal, even if you win, the delay that it would cost would be probably at least a year, and the financing charges that would be incurred, the penalties that would be incurred for that delay, as well as all the legal costs, would exceed probably the kind of numbers that we were talking about,” he further explained.

“Then there’s all different scenarios of re-tendering the project, in which case the contractor who had received the bid would probably sue, and start another legal battle. So when you looked at all of the different options from a business perspective, while it’s not really very pleasant or very palatable to pay a settlement. for the interest of the country, financially it’s the right thing to do. More importantly for the health of our population, I think it was the right thing to do. I’m happy that the project is moving forward,” Minister Lee concluded.