By Evie Andreou
Health Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, told MPs on Thursday the government had referred the law on the creation of the organisation of state health services (Okyy) which was passed by the House plenum recently, due to inconsistencies.
Ioannou, explained to the House health committee that the government referred the law, passed by the plenum right before the Easter holidays – as it was found to include inconsistent provisions.
The government filed an amendment to correct the inconsistency between the provisions of the basic law as regards the declaration of possible conflict of interest in relation to the board members through their involvement in businesses related to the organisation’s activities, which is healthcare. However, there is a reference in the next paragraph to conflict of interest due to their involvement in any business.
Ioannou told MPs last month that: “It used to be ‘in any businesses’ […] We changed it to ‘any businesses dealing with health issues’”.
In the note accompanying the referral, President Nicos Anastasiades, said that parliament did not include the corrective amendment the government had suggested and, as a result, the inconsistency between these two paragraphs continued to exist and created problems in choosing and appointing the board members of Okyy.
The president explained that the cabinet may appoint as a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and a member of the Board of Directors which neither he nor she, nor their spouse, has no interest in operations related to the activities of Okyy. However, the president said, the cabinet needed to check the degree of relevance to the activities of the organisation, of any enterprise owned by these persons.
“This inconsistency causes confusion as to which is the correct application of the law and as to what the cabinet is asked to check to appoint the board of the Okyy,” the president said.
In addition, he said, the provisions of the law under referral, lead to different treatment of the Okyy board in relation to the boards of other organisations as, in those cases, conflict of interest concerns their involvement in relevant businesses and not for any type of business they might own.
Greens’ MP, Giorgos Perdikis, who had proposed the amendment which was voted by parliament, leading to the inconsistency, said that the House was being blackmailed and told that unless MPs withdraw the legislation they passed, three Cypriot members of the Okyy board had threatened to resign.
“They are so prominent that they do not want to give the Council of Ministers their assets to check whether they are linked to healthcare businesses,” Perdikis said.
The head of the House health committee, Costakis Constantinou, however, said that the minister never mentioned during the meeting anything about the resignation of any Okky board members.
Disy, he said, accepted the referral.
The eight-member board of the organisation of state health services was appointed last December, following cabinet approval. The main responsibilities of the board of directors are to oversee the operation of all public hospitals and centres of primary health care as well as the implementation of administrative and financial autonomy in public hospitals. Okyy will replace the health ministry in providing health services.