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Meljina urgently needs money

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The director of the hospital said that due to the lack of money, they have to gradually shut down the activity from next month, while the Government’s working group is looking for a solution to the problem, which is complicated by four court proceedings that are being conducted in connection with the hospital – criminal, civil, arbitration and bankruptcy.

The bankrupt private health institution General Hospital Meljine currently has no money for basic needs, so it could gradually shut down its activity from the beginning of next month, and in order for that not to happen, they need up to 115,000 euros per month from the Government until the final status of the hospital is resolved.

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This is what the director of the hospital, Olivera Elez, told “Vijesta” yesterday.

The Ministry of Health told “Vijesta” that the Government’s working group is intensively dealing with all the challenges that the bad privatization of the Meljine hospital by the previous government put it in an almost hopeless position. This working group was formed at the end of July.

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Legal solution

“The state is trying in every way to find the best, legally based solution to get out of that situation, and the goal is to return the hospital to state ownership, but not to make moves that do not have a long-term and definitive solution to this situation”, they said in department headed by the Minister of Health Dragoslav Šćekić.

The current, 43rd convocation of the Government did not pay any kind of aid to the Meljina hospital for the reason that the Law on State Aid clearly defines to whom and how the state can pay aid, so that is one of the reasons for the formation of a working group that will also deal with normative possibilities in order to help and survive the Meljine hospital. If the Government gave the money, it would violate the law and jeopardize its negotiating position with the EU.

The owner of “Meljine complex” with a 99 percent share is the company “Atlas Cap” from Podgorica, connected to businessman Duško Knežević . This company’s account has been blocked for three years due to a debt of 153 thousand euros. The owner of “Atlas Cap” is an offshore company from Cyprus called “Meljine Complex Limites”.

Knežević’s consortium bought the former military hospital with 50,000 square meters of land and 19 buildings in 2008 for a formal price of 25 million euros, but paid the amount in bonds that cost it around 10 to 12 million euros. The buyer undertook to invest 119 million euros in the future tourist and hospital complex, but only three million were invested with the explanation that the Municipality was late with the urban plans. In 2015, the Privatization Council launched an initiative to terminate the contract, but it did not happen.

At the Commercial Court in September 2019, at the request of Elektroprivreda (EPCG), bankruptcy was opened in the Meljine hospital due to a debt of 242.3 thousand euros. In connection with the Meljina hospital, there are several proceedings – criminal, litigation, arbitration and bankruptcy, and they make it difficult to decide on the final status.

Two days ago, the local parliament in Herceg Novi reached a unanimous conclusion that if the issue of the bankrupt hospital is not resolved by the end of this month, and if it is closed, councilors and representatives of the executive power, together with citizens, will organize protests with the aim blocking border crossings on the territory of this municipality until the request is met.

This is the only hospital on the territory of this Municipality.

Where are the protests because of bad privatization

The councilors adopted the conclusion that by the end of this month at the latest, solutions should be found that would enable its further functioning and that the hospital should be urgently introduced into the public health system.

When asked what their position is regarding this request, the Ministry of Health told “Vijesta” that the problem faced by this institution and all its employees requires a multisectoral approach and an answer that cannot be solved exclusively by the Department of Health.

“Because as is already known, this is a case that is, among other things, under a court case, and the state is trying in every way to find the best, legally grounded solution to get out of that situation. We have repeated many times – our interest and goal is the return of the Meljine hospital to state ownership. We will not give up on that goal, but we will also not resort to any solution that does not have a long-term and definitive solution to this situation”, stated yesterday from this department.

The Ministry of Health pointed out that they were particularly surprised by “threats from the local authorities, who do not help with anything, and threaten to block and paralyze traffic, probably forgetting what, among other things, is their obligation”.

“We also ask them where they were all these years, especially let them say where they were to “block” bad privatization”, the ministry stated.

Speaking about the current situation in the “Meljine” hospital, Elez stated that the supply of medicines and medical supplies is regular through Montefarma, but that there is a lack of money for the procurement of oxygen, food, fuel, reagents for the laboratory…

Donations for minimal functioning

“In the last few days, after the initiative of the Municipality, we have received donations from companies from Herceg Novi, which currently enables us to function minimally. We are grateful to everyone who responded, but it is not a permanent solution”, emphasizes Elez.

She said that the debts of the hospital, from May 19 of last year, when they received the last help from the state, until June 30 of this year, amount to 1.54 million euros, and that debt refers to hospital expenses.

He points out that the hospital urgently needs financial assistance of 110 to 115 thousand on a monthly basis.

“On this issue, as well as on the issue of definitive resolution of the status of the hospital, we had several meetings with the relevant ministries when we had the opportunity to present the seriousness of the situation. I think that the Ministry of Finance has fully understood the problem and my personal impression is that it is dealing with this seriously, but one also gets the impression that a definitive solution to the problem requires time, and the Meljine hospital does not have it”, announced Elez. He is expecting a response from the Government soon and a plan to introduce the hospital into public health so that it is made available to the citizens of Herceg Novi at its full capacity.

“In that way, the employees would finally have stability and the opportunity to do their work in better conditions. In the event that a positive solution is not reached as of November 1, the hospital will gradually shut down its activity”, concluded Elez.

The September salary was not paid to the workers

Elez stated that the workers are owed their September salary, for which she does not know when it will be paid. He points out that this salary is twice less than in general hospitals in public health, and therefore it is impossible to keep the existing staff and provide new ones, especially since the workers have been working in those conditions for more than six years.

She said that they provide the money for the salary mainly from the earnings under the contract with the Health Care Fund, which until now has been paid on a monthly basis.

“According to the contract, the Fund has the right to pay the earned invoices in 60 days, but it has not used that right so far, so we were able to regularly pay salaries to the staff. This month there has been no payment yet, we will see what it is about. There are about 156 employees in the Hospital, which is insufficient for functioning, so we are hiring another 20 to 30 consultants for assistance. “From the earlier period before the introduction of bankruptcy, pension contributions are owed to workers”, said Elez, local media writes.

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