COPA should question Dr. Fernando – JVP

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (22) suggested that Parliament should summon the Chairman of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) Dr. Neville Fernando before the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) over the paid newspaper advertisement to sell the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH), which was taken over by the Government last year.
The said newspaper advertisement was published in several newspapers a few weeks ago stating that the NFTH was for immediate sale.
Referring to that fact, JVP Parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa participating in the debate taken up on Regulations under the National Medicines Regulatory Act, queried as to how a hospital which is supposed to be operated by the Government can be sold off by publishing newspaper advertisements.
Dr. Jayatissa, raising a supplementary question during the Oral Question Round, raised the same matter on 20 March. However, State Minister of Higher Education Mohan Lal Grero at that time dismissed the question saying that Dr. Jayatissa’s supplementary question was not related to his original question.
Dr. Jayatissa: Last year, it was reported that the NFTH was handed over to the Government. There was a celebration and both the President and the Minister of Health participated in it. The media reported that there was an agreement between the NFTH management and the Government. Those parties even claimed that they aimed to make the NFTH the best Hospital in Asia. But now, newspaper advertisements have been published stating that the Hospital is for immediate sale. How can this happen?
Elaborating further, Dr. Jayatissa said that the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) had requested for a copy of the agreement signed between the Government and the NFTH when it was handed over to the Government, under the Right to Information Act (RTI). However, the Ministry of Health has informed the GMOA that there is no such agreement but a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, he added.
“Since the acquisition, the Government has paid about Rs 300 million per month to the NFTH for continuing its operations. When there is a situation like that, how can advertisements be published out of nowhere? When I raised this question, none of the MPs of the Government bothered to give a reply. I hope that they will be able to give a proper reply as soon as possible.”
Dr. Jayatissa then suggested that if there is confusion over the matter, Dr. Fernando could be summoned before the COPA and be questioned about the said newspaper advertisements.

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