NHF clears air on accounts
THE EDITOR, Sir:
On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, the commentary, 'NHF accounts appear stuck in quarantine', was published in The Gleaner. Please be advised that last annual report (inclusive of the audited accounts dated, September 19, 2013) for the National Health Fund (NHF), available to the public, was for the year ending March 2013, not March 2012, as the article stated.
The 2012-2013 NHF annual report was tabled in Parliament on June 3, 2014. The usual long-standing practice surrounding the release of audited financial statements for public bodies is that they are released to the public once tabled in Parliament.
The NHF's 2013-2014 annual report, inclusive of the audited accounts, dated July 30, 2014, was completed in keeping with the requirements of the Public Bodies and Accountability Act, and shall be tabled in Parliament soon.
In commenting on the 2011-2012 NHF annual report, AC Countz, the columnist, highlighted some areas of concern shared by the NHF. One such area was the outstanding receivables from the Ministry of Health, which were $1.2 billion, as at March 31, 2012, as stated in the 2011-2012 annual report. This matter is of concern to the NHF because of the implications for the delivery of pharmaceutical services in the public sector.
The comment by AC Countz, on the profitability of the Fund, stated that the NHF became profitable in 2012, making $1.8 billion "profit", as against a loss of $700 million in 2011.
The NHF did not make a loss of $700 million in 2010-2011. The amount of $700 million is, in fact, the sum approved for institutional benefits, under the Institutional Benefits Fund.
The "profit" that the columnist referred to is, in fact, a surplus of $1.8 billion on the NHF's General Fund activities; the NHF has shown a surplus on its General Fund operations every year since inception.
Regarding the NHF owning property and equipment on someone else's land and trying to buy land, the NHF's Pharmaceutical Division Warehouse is located on property located at 78 Marcus Garvey Drive, owned by the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), another government entity.
The issue of ownership is one that predates the mandate given to the Fund to take over the Health Corporation Ltd, which became the NHF's Pharmaceutical Division. A sale agreement was recently signed with FCJ for the sale of the land to the NHF.
EVERTON W. ANDERSON
Chief Executive Officer