Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Phillip Pierre has responded to recent requests by United Workers Party Leader Allen Chastanet for public disclosure on the status of projects at the Hewanorra Airport.
Chastanet had called for clarification regarding the circumstances behind a contract recently awarded for the construction of a private jet terminal at the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA), and “full disclosure” on the monies collected on behalf of and used on the Airport Development Project.
But according to Pierre, “the answers to these questions have been in the public domain for some time and Mr. Chastanet may have not heard or was simply not interested”.
In his press statement, Pierre accused the UWP leader of “attempting to cast aspersions” on the government regarding these projects.
With regards to the HIA project, Pierre said that financing was never secured for the venture due to the financier’s refusal to grant monies amidst concerns about Asphalt and Mining (A&M) – one of the businesses proposed for the consortium to handle the project.
“When in opposition, the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s position on the Hewanorra International Airport Project was always clear. We had serious concerns on the procurement process and particularly the involvement of Asphalt and Mining in a proposed consortium in the finance build arrangement. Secondly, the Saint Lucia Labour Party believed that due to the fiscal situation and the debt portfolio of the country expenditure of half a billion dollars on one project was excessive,” the release said.
“The fears of the Saint Lucia Labour Party were validated when the proposed financier refused to be part of the arrangement if A & M was part of the consortium…. The truth is there was never any finance secured for the H.I.A. project,” the release said.
Pierre went on the state that government has requested that the Saint Lucia Air and Seaport Authority (SLASPA) prepare a comprehensive report on the HIA project, to include “a full review of the procurement process… comparative options for the concepts of the airport terminal, advise on all possible options for the financing of the project and consider the plashed approach of development to assist in the management of debt if that we to be an option considered.”
“To date the government of Saint Lucia is aware that the council and management of SLASPA have completed the aforementioned tasks and are in the process of submitting the findings and recommendation to their respective ministers for review, deliberation of cabinet and a policy decision from the GOSL,” the release stated.
With respect to the Airport Development Charge (ADC) Chastanet had asked “Where is the money presently and how much of it, if any, has been spent and on what? It is true that a direct award has been given for the resurfacing of the runway at the Hewanorra International Airport?”
In response Pierre’s said that as at June 30, 2013 the total monies collected by the IATA for SLASPA stands at $54.1 million of which none have been used. These monies, according to him, are currently in an interest bearing account held by the Port Authority.
“The Airport Development Charge was reduced to zero by the government earlier this year, a promise made during the 2011 election campaign,” the statement informed.
On the issue of resurfacing the runway at HIA the minister’s statement said that there has been no direct award of contract.
“The government of Saint Lucia is aware and SLASPA has confirmed that there is an urgent need to address the deterioration of the runway at Hewanorra International Airport. A consultancy was undertaken and presently the design and tender documents are being prepared. The work will be done in two stages. Firstly, the sealing of cracks on the runway and secondly the full resurfacing of the runway. A request for proposals for the sealing has been published in local newspapers. Regarding the resurfacing a request for proposals (tender) will be published shortly. The truth is no direct award has been awarded to any company for the resurfacing at the Hewanorra Airport,” the statement said.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Chastanent on one hand is asking for a change in political ethos of the country but chooses in the same address to deliberately contort stories that he is well aware are untrue and misleading,” Pierre stated.