NEWS

Hospital debts are to be paid

Just over 2 billion euros of debt amassed by state hospitals is to be paid off in cash by the government in yet another move to tidy up public finances, under a bill submitted to Parliament yesterday. Debtors will be able to get their hands on the money owed to them provided they discount their invoices. Suppliers, such as pharmaceutical companies who had a state contract to provide hospitals with goods or services, will have to agree to 3.5 percent being knocked of the total amount they are due to receive. Those who did business with the hospitals on an ad hoc basis are being asked to accept 5 percent less than they are owed. In both cases, suppliers will also have to waive their rights to any interest due on the money the hospitals owe them. Paying off this debt is seen as another step for the government toward getting a grip on public finances. The 2.1 billion euros in question, apparently, did not show up in any public accounts and was not included in the national debt or deficit figures.