Health schemes for municipal employees will be complementary to the island’s fledgling General Healthcare System (GeSY) till mid-2020, according to a Ministry of Finance circular.
The circular, sent to local authorities in view of the drafting of their budgets for 2020, said that by May 31, 2020, municipal health schemes should only cover services not provided by GeSY.
“Bearing in mind that the first phase of the implementation of GeSY, which covers only outpatient services (visits to personal doctors, visits to specialist doctors, pharmaceuticals and lab tests), health care schemes provided by municipalities should only cover those services not provided by GeSY,” the circular said.
As a matter of fact, municipalities are asked to include in their explanatory budget note a brief description of health care schemes provided to their staff. That is, employee benefits, the amount contributed by the employer and the employee as well as the duration of private health care contracts.
The Ministry of Finance also calls on local authorities to adjust health plans in municipalities based on the relevant decision. And it is underlined that as of June 1, 2020, municipalities will have to abolish health care schemes in accordance with the decision taken last March by the Council of Ministers.
However, the Ministry’s decision appears to partially satisfy trade unions which demand that health plans, at both municipalities and semi-governmental organisations, be complementary to the GeSY and reviewed regularly in order to cover services that are left out from the general scheme. Trade unions want this measure to be continued after June 2020 when the GeSY will be fully implemented.
Municipalities have to submit their 2020 budgets before the Treasury by October 4.
Regarding overtime employment by municipal employees for 2020, the ministry called on local authorities to limit it to the minimum possible and to try not to exceed that of 2019. The Ministry also called on municipal secretariats to take the necessary measures, including redistribution of staff or the application of structural reforms, so that overtime is abolished or minimised.
In addition, municipalities are urged to limit social and cultural events, and spend hospitality and public relations funds in a prudent way.