Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton wants journalists to purchase toilet paper for schools instead of reporting on allegations from various schools about a shortage of supplies such as toilet paper.
He, during his contribution to the 2017 Budget Debate today, also bragged about walking away from a journalist who had approached him about a matter of huge national interest – the National Health Insurance (NHI).
Skelton, whose National Democratic Party government is frequently accused of not being transparent and accountable, lamented what he considers the news media’s appetite for negativity.
“We have become a people that all we do is dwell on the negative. All the news wants to do is pick up whatever negative things I say here and that becomes the story.”
“While I was opening the new imaging section at Peebles Hospital, and I thought I was doing a good thing for the people of the Virgin Islands… One of the reporters said ‘Minister, can I speak to you a minute?’ I said, ‘what you want to speak to me about?’ [The reporter said] somebody who didn’t pay NHI who they throw off the scheme. All I could do is just shake my head and walk away,” Skelton said while he – along with some of his colleagues – laughed.
Recently, members of the public expressed grave concern that employees were being suspended from the NHI, because their employers did not pay the necessary contributions over to the NHI.
The NHI, which admitted to suspending employees, later admitted that it is not allowed to do so under law. Instead, employers are the ones liable for prosecution if they don’t pay over the contributions collected from their workers.
After describing how he shrugged off a journalist who pursued that story, Skelton said: “We have issues; we have problems. There are things we can do better. There are things that we need to do. But it’s not all bad. But it seems like the devil is loose and all we do is cause massive confusion in our country. Some news need to get a conscience; some reporters need to get a conscience and deal with the goodness. It seems that nothing is good in this country anymore.”
Skelton went on to chide the media for reporting on one of many complaints about the alleged shortage of supplies at schools.
He added that he is aware that Government has supplies in a store-room at its offices in Road Town.
“I passing the basement of the admin building on a regular basis by the Ministry of Education store-room; there are tonnes of supplies in there. And every day the door is open; and I see them put them out marked for different schools. And the kids don’t have toilet paper becomes a national issue? Before the reporter who report it go and buy some toilet paper and carry it to the school,” Skelton further said.
Media houses last month reported on the issue regarding an alleged shortage of toilet paper and other supplies at the Enis Adams Primary School.
That issue came to public attention when Minister of Education Myron Walwyn issued a statement refuting comments a teacher had made on social media.
The teacher’s social media comment is posted below.
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