Finance Minister Makis Keravnos’ office on Monday denied a report that claimed he said the national health scheme (Gesy) was a black hole of funds.
According to the finance ministry, Keravnos never made any statement about Gesy, since the day he took his post at the ministry.
“However, despite the fact the minister has never made a statement about Gesy, he wants to note that all public officials need to be especially careful, when commenting or referring to statements or attributions in the press published as statements, by any minister,” the ministry’s statement said.
Earlier in the day, the head of the health insurance organisation (HIO) Andreas Papaconstantinou called Keravnos out over the alleged statements the minister made over the weekend.
A report published on the online portal Brief had suggested that they had information that Keravnos’ big concern was fixing the “black hole” of Gesy.
Sources told the website that Keravnos had already identified that a large increase in HIO expenses, which is disproportionate to the increase in the gross national product (GDP) and is likely to evolve as a source of fiscal risk.
Papaconstantinou said Keravnos should either recant his statement or come to the table with facts to support his argument.
Also on the weekend, the sentiment the report expressed almost exactly echoed the new Health Minister Popi Kanari, who said that there are “holes in the bag” of Gesy.
Papaconstantinou and Kanari met for the first time on Monday, while the minister also met with representatives from the state health services organisation (Okypy), which manage the hospitals.
“It’s a very serious accusation to call Gesy a black hole,” he told CyBC about the report on Keravnos’ sentiments.
He said that people had a right to know about Gesy’s finances and that there needs to be transparency.
“I invite him [Keravnos] to publish the data that support this position,” he said.
The issue has been raised with HIO in parliament in the past.
Papaconstantinou said that there are problems with Gesy, as to how to make the system more responsive, but the finances have all been published.
He added that they have made their reports on Gesy at HIO and they have sent the reports to both the health and finance ministries for review.
Referring to the studies covering up to 2030 they have published, the HIO head said that the International Labour Organisation has conducted the studies on Gesy for them, and that they have concluded that the scheme is sustainable.
“There are reserves currently of up to €350 million, and the average national funds for health are 8 per cent in Cyprus, where in the rest of Europe the average is 10 per cent,” he said.
He questioned how this could be a black hole.