ECONOMY

Debts to be paid

Money owed by state hospitals to suppliers of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, amounting to 5.6 billion euros, will be paid off by the government, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. In addition to an initial 230-million-euro amount that will be paid immediately, the government plans to issue noninterest-bearing bonds as a means of settling the debt. It had said in November that it would set up a committee of officials from the Finance and Health ministries to determine the exact amount owed as well as examine methods of payment for debts owed by public hospitals which inflated the country’s budget deficit last year to 13.6 percent of gross domestic product. The ministry added yesterday that a new ‘health procurement commission’ will conduct open and international tenders for hospital equipment, producing ‘an end to the lawlessness and lack of transparency that prevailed in the buying process by public hospitals.’