DeSilva resigns from Cabinet over conflict
Cabinet minister Zane DeSilva quit his post yesterday, the Premier announced last night.
David Burt said Mr DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, resigned because of “a conflict he faces” over changes to fees for MRI and CT medical scans that have sparked controversy over the past few days.
Government reform minister Lovitta Foggo will assume responsibility for DeSilva’s portfolio until a new person is appointed.
Mr Burt said last night: “Earlier today, I reluctantly accepted the resignation from Cabinet of Zane DeSilva.
“Mr DeSilva has expressed the conflict he faces by a set of circumstances this new government inherited — specifically, the decision made by the former government to significantly reduce the fees paid for MRI and CT scans in Bermuda and the new government’s actions to mitigate the impact of those fee reductions without increasing health insurance costs.”
Mr DeSilva is a close ally of Ewart Brown, the former premier, who announced this month the CT scan service at his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s would close because of fee cuts.
At a press conference last week, Dr Brown, flanked by Mr DeSilva and other supporters, blamed the closure on the Bermuda Health Council’s decision to make cuts including one type of scan from $1,441 to $383, and another from $1,543 to $542.
Dr Brown claimed the BHeC and the former One Bermuda Alliance administration had both “loved the idea of putting Dr Brown out of business”.
He said he hoped the Progressive Labour Party government would work with him, but added he was “not here to try to tell them what to do”.
The Ministry of Health has said a grant had been approved for service providers “in order to help ensure CT and MRI services are readily available to the public”, with Brown-Darrell and Dr Brown’s Bermuda Healthcare Services expected to receive about $778,000.
In last night’s statement, Mr Burt said: “I respect Mr DeSilva’s decision and, like him, I remain committed to accomplishing those things we were elected to achieve for the people of Bermuda.
“On a personal note, I count Zane DeSilva as a friend and colleague and hope to continue to benefit from his insight and wisdom. In his public service, Zane is a tireless worker and has devoted his time in Parliament to serving this community.
“I wish him and his incredibly supportive family the very best.
“The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lovitta Foggo will assume the duties of Acting Minister of Social Development and Sport until a new minister is appointed to the Cabinet.”
Mr DeSilva was elected as Progressive Labour Party MP for Southampton East Central in 2007 and has retained his place at the House of Assembly in two elections since then, switching to Southampton East in 2012.
He became a minister without portfolio in 2009 and was PLP public safety spokesman before the party won the General Election last summer.
The PLP issued a statement last night, thanking Mr DeSilva for his service as minister.
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