Nascent Health Infrastructure Development Agency stirs heated polemics between current Health Minister and his predecessor from USR. Rafila challenges consultancy cost estimates
Health Minister Alexandru Rafila takes issue with the fact that the Health chapter of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) laying out the sector’s financing program has been devised without consulting the Health Ministry, so that there are currently no criteria in place for selecting the hospitals eligible for European money. Instead, the project provides for 25 million euros in funding for consultancy, Rafila told a press conference on Thursday.
He said that when he took over at the helm of the Health Ministry “the NRRP technical details where nowhere to be found”.
“When I came to the Health Ministry, the NRRP was non-existent in terms of technical details. Former Minister Cseke found it only with great difficulty, on a stick that was later multiplied. I inquired with all 22 relevant structures of the Health Ministry, none of them was consulted or actually participated in devising this program. It was done in – let’s not say secrecy – but the Health Ministry knew nothing about it, and now has to implement it,” Rafila said.
He also challenges the amount set for EIB consultancy to the nascent Health Infrastructure Development Agency (ANDIS), which is 25 million euros – five times more than the ANDIS operation costs.
“It’s very hard for me to believe that it’s okay for the 75 ANDIS employees paid a thousand euros a month to get consultancy from people paid 2,000 euros a day, and who will be advising them for hundreds and thousands of days. (…) The operation of the agency itself means 5 million euros, including employee training, whereas the consultancy is five times costlier. I didn’t point fingers at anyone, I didn’t say that it’s legal or not, all I did was request a point of view from the Prime Minister’s Control Body for us to know where we stand. … We needed an independent body to assess this situation. This is going to happen. We have made it transparent for the citizens of this country to know all these things, they are not secret,” the Health Minister explained.
He also made it clear that the ordinance approving the creation of the agency is in the internal approval procedure at the Health Ministry and will be then sent to the other ministries that need to issue an opinion, for the goals committed to under the NRRP to be met.
The Health Minister’s reaction comes amid claims by USR public policies coordinator Cristian Ghinea that Alexandru Rafila “wants to skirt the construction of hospitals funded under the NRRP” although he has 1.7 billion euros for this purpose.
“I told you (…) the story of ANDIS – the health investment agency that should replace two Ministry directorates that failed on the hospital building task. The agency has NRRP funding to operate on, to get staffed – what does the PSD call ‘consultancy’, they are not familiar with work. (…) ANDIS was the solution to the Commission’s question: OK, we give you 1.7 billion to build hospitals, but who does this? Of course the Health Ministry’s upper crust is in a state of commotion. ANDIS is about to come into being and there will be a selection contest for managers (yes, this is also set forth in the NRRP). (…) Their solution? Rafila informed the European Commission that he doesn’t want ANDIS at the Health Ministry but at the government’s General Secretariat,” Ghinea wrote on Thursday on Facebook.
EU Funds Minister Vilceanu: Agency for Healthcare Infrastructure will be subordinated to Health Ministry
The Minister of European Investments and Projects, Dan Vilceanu, stated, on Thursday, that the National Agency for Development of Healthcare Infrastructure (ANDIS) will be established at the Health Ministry, not subordinated to the National Investment Company or the General Secretariat of the Government.
“ANDIS will be done at the Health Ministry. I had these discussions also with Mr. Rafila. And it’s normal to be this way, because you can’t break health policy from investments in healthcare,” said Dan Vilceanu, asked in Parliament if the Health chapter of the PNRR [National Recovery and Resilience Plan] can be renegotiated so that ANDIS is no longer subordinated to the Health Ministry, but to the National Investment Company or the General Secretariat of the Government.
Asked if the sum of 25 million euro for ANDIS consulting with the European Investment Bank, the minister said: “The sums earmarked there don’t necessarily have to be spent like that. It’s true that a sum for consultancy was allotted. If consultancy costs less, you can certainly use that sum for other investments in Healthcare. You don’t have to transfer it. It’s in the Health chapter.”
“There is an allotted sum for ANDIS – 5 million with 25 million [e.n. – for investments and consultancy, respectively]. Obviously if instead of 30 million, the establishment or building of ANDIS costs 10 million, for example, due to the contract or negotiations results in a smaller sum, the remaining 20 million can be used for other investments in healthcare. (…) No contract is signed, because, as we are talking, for example, in what regards investments in the area of healthcare, we are in the area of normative acts, government decisions. For example, when talking about hospitals, the criteria by which you select hospitals for investments must be established. We are not at that moment,” Vilceanu added.
PSD’s Ciolacu: Consultancy for tens of thousands of euro! This is what defines these gluttons for public money from the USR
The chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Marcel Ciolacu, stated, on Thursday, that the Save Romania Union (USR) has allotted “tens of millions of euro” of the loans granted through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) for consultancy services.
“Consultancy for tens of thousands of euro! This is what defines these gluttons for public money from the USR! After throwing Romania into chaos with the liberalization of energy, they have no shame now to put impoverished Romanians to pay their consultancy 44,000 euro per month! Tens of millions of euro from the loans taken from NRRP- specifically the money that will be paid by Romanians. Without transparency, without a criteria, without a basis,” wrote Ciolacu, on Facebook.
He added that now he can understand why those that “preached ‘No thievery in public post’ have opposed with all their power the optimization of the NRRP, requested by the PSD.”
“The transparency claimed so much by the ‘immaculate’ USR members would leave them exactly as before they accidentally ended up governing the country: without jobs, without income, unemployed on the money that impoverished them with all their ‘consultancy'”, said Ciolacu.
PNL’ s Citu: Decision on consultancy financing for projects under Romania’s NRRP belongs to those who implement them
On the other hand, the Senate President, liberal leader Florin Citu, declared on Thursday that the decision on consultancy financing for projects under Romania’s NRRP belongs to those who implement them, mentioning that “there are important projects where you need expertise.”
“After all, there are important projects where you need expertise. Let us look at what we are able to do with our own strengths, other than that, expertise of course, from the World Bank, from other international institutions where we are shareholders and participants. If it is justified, then it is great. If it is not justified, that is the decision of those that implement these projects,” Citu said.
Compiled from Agerpres