$534,250 in mystery private hospital funding

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 20 February 2019, 12:00AM

The Development Bank of Samoa had budgeted $534,250 for “completing payment” of the now abandoned MedCen Hospital at Vailima.  

The amount of $534,250 comes from a supplementary estimate of $636,747 appropriated for the bank. 

It is unclear what the payment is for. 

“A total of $534,250 is estimated for completing the payment of the MedCen Hospital and handed to the government as a permanent asset,” according to the Parliamentary Committee Report for the first Supplementary Estimates 2018/2019. 

The total includes payments for the hospital and $102,497 for Euro foreign exchange. 

“The $102, 497 is a portion to pay the Euro foreign exchange loan from EU for projects that were implemented by Development Bank of Samoa since 1999.”

It was not possible to get a comment from the Government-owned bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Susana Laulu. Her secretary said the CEO was attending training, when Samoa Observer contacted her office yesterday for comment.

The hospital – which was the first private hospital in the region – is overgrown with vegetation covering the sealed road and building windows. 

The gate to the deserted hospital remains open with the doors inside the 21-bed facility unlocked and rotting away. 

In March last year the Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) Land Board advertised the facility for expression of interest. 

 The property stands on a 2 ½ acre of land with an area of 10,222 square meters, in close proximity to Avele College and opposite the U.S. Embassy. In May, 2017, the Development Bank of Samoa re-advertised the property for sale or as lease-to-own.  

At the time, the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, said while the hospital no longer operates, the building is owned by the Development Bank of Samoa.  

“They have not been able to offload the building to sell because it’s on Government land,” Sili said in a previous interview. 

“They need to come to some discussion with the Land Board about the land. It makes sense for Development Bank to sell it (building) unless the Government has any use of that land and building and get a decent return for the building.” 

Sili added that the sooner “we let it (building) go to government cooperation, the better, because every year it sits there not being utilised causes further deterioration to the building.” 

At the height of its operation, the privately-owned hospital offered inpatient medical, surgical, obstetric, and pediatric services, in addition to emergency and outpatient consultation.  It also had radiology, pathology and pharmaceutical services on the hospital site at Vailima. 

The hospital went broke several years after its establishment in 1998 and was gradually forced to shut down. The Development Bank of Samoa then moved in and took over the assets and equipment. The bank was the hospital’s biggest creditor back then, and had invested $2 million into the project.  

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 20 February 2019, 12:00AM

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