Government could have spent more money on equipment to treat cancer had it not been for past corruption, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley saidon Saturday.
In the keynote address at the launch of the Linear Accelerator (LINAC) Wing at the St James Medical Complex, Rowley gave the example of a department in the Ministry of Housing that had in the past that purchased property at an overvalued price of $175 million when it was originally valued at $52 million.
“That was $125 million more than taxpayers should have spent. If that $125 million had not leaked out of the Treasury in that way, we could have gotten another machine like this. This machine cost $84 million.
He said his administration has been trying to maintain social services although revenue has been declining over the last few years due to shortfalls in oil and gas.
To get around this, the Government has to ensure there is a more efficient system of tax collection as a lot of the country’s taxes are not collected.
“Approximately 40 per cent of the taxes that ought to be collected under the current arrangement is being evaded,” Dr Rowley said.
He said Government continues to prioritise first-class health care, as recently the Arima Hospital was opened and in a few days, the Point Fortin Hospital will be opened. In addition, hospitals are under construction in Sangre Grande and Roxborough.
Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh announced that the Centre of Radiotherapy has been renamed the Cancer Centre of T&T and the equipment launched yesterday will revolutionise cancer treatment in this country.
“The vision for cancer services in Trinidad and Tobago is for available and accessible first world cancer treatment for all citizens afflicted with cancer.
“This vision translates to the prevention of disease, early detection through screening and effective diagnose, be it surgery, chemotherapy radiation therapy and that is why we are renaming this centre, the Cancer Centre. It is not only about radiation,” he said.
Cancer is the third leading cause of death in T&T.