Cabinet has agreed to the expansion of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) on its present site at an estimated cost of over $400 million and has also begun identifying funding for the upgrade and expansion.
This assurance was given by Prime Minister David Thompson today, as he delivered the feature address at the Collaborative Conference of National Organisations and National Councils of Barbadian Organisations at Sherbourne Conference Centre.
According to the Prime Minister, much of the necessary repair and maintenance work at the QEH had been deferred from year to year for a long time. “It can no longer be postponed if the QEH is to begin to deliver an acceptable level of service. We have no choice but to ask Parliament very soon to approve the guarantee of a bond to be raised by the QEH in tranches totaling $60 million over the next 18 months to execute this vital repair and maintenance work,” he stressed.
Mr. Thompson noted that Government owned a substantial number of shares in both the Barbados National Bank and the Insurance Corporation of Barbados, but was a minority shareholder in both companies and in no real position to direct their strategies.
He said that Government had been advised that the value of shareholdings in the two companies was approximately $200 million and that the rate of cash dividend that Government received on an annual basis on the shares was less than the rate of interests that Government paid on its borrowing.
“Since these shares are no longer useful in determining the strategic direction of either of these companies, Government has taken the decision to offer these shares firstly to Barbadian individuals, the National Insurance Board and local companies and then, if necessary, to the current majority shareholders of the two companies, if Barbadians do not take up all of the shares.
“The proceeds of these sales will be used to fund part of the upgrading and expansion of the QEH,” Mr. Thompson explained.
He noted that additionally, a number of bona fide local investors had approached the Government on their own behalf and on behalf of a number of foreign investors with substantial property investments in Barbados and had offered to raise philanthropic capital contributions for the upgrade and expansion of the QEH.