Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey said today that Tuesday’s Budget Management Committee meeting No.49 instructed officials to urgently release K41.2 million in cash to Provincial Health Authorities.
“This is a necessary immediate step to deal with the growing COVID-19 health risks across the nation,” he stated.
“We prepared for COVID-19 a year ago when the risks of the disease were unknown. But the rapid increase in infections over the last four weeks must be dealt with as a matter of urgency. As other Ministers have said, none of us are immune. We need to take sensible and effective precautions – the new normal.”
Ling-Stuckey said it is critical that the Government support its frontline health workers by ensuring they have the necessary funds available.
He was shocked to learn that of the Ministerial warrants of K53.4 million that have been issued for Provincial Health Authorities (PHAs) goods and services funding, only K12.2 million in cash has been released. This is despite there being sufficient cash available.
“Changes made to the Temporary Advance Facility by the Marape government last year means we can now front-load more cash expenditure each year,” he clarified.
“The remaining K41.2 million will now be immediately available.
“Personally, it is distressing to hear that this cash has simply not flowed through to where it is needed because of red tape.
“At a time of an ongoing health emergency, we must ensure that our people’s lives and health are given higher priority than red-tape.”
Ling-Stuckey said the requirements for procurement plans and annual monthly cash flow plans for the Department of Planning have been suspended for January and February, and perhaps, this should be extended until later in the year and extended to other departments supporting the global COVID-19 pandemic response.
“The injection of K41.2 million in cash to the PHAs will help deal with the current shortages being faced by our PHAs, including additional purchases of PPE and oxygen.”
(Budget Management Committee meetings are now conducted virtually by the Department of Treasury)