Acting Prime Minister and Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph has said that he is awaiting legal advice from government to commence lodging cases against companies and agents who may have been responsible for an alleged mismanagement of works on the St. Jude Hospital project in Vieux Fort.
Speaking at a pre-cabinet briefing on November 27, Joseph said that while he is unable to divulge details, there is “enough” evidence to take the matter to court.
The long-delayed $80-million St. Jude project has been considered faulty and over-budget by government. The project was started by the United Workers Party (UWP) under the leadership of Stephenson King and was scheduled to have been completed during the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) reign between 2011-2016 but it remains incomplete.
The Ministry of Economic Development is the largely responsible for the fiscal management of local hospitals. A technical audit handled by FDL Consults and funded through taxpayers in the amount of $980,000, was ordered by the United Workers Party (UWP) government shortly after it halted the project just weeks after coming into office last year.
“When something is being reviewed from a legal perspective it limits the ability of the government to speak. So what has happened is we are limited in how much information we can give… Because if I go and say anything that’s going to prejudice any outcome today or tomorrow. I may be defeating the very purpose for which I was working. So I need to be careful,” Joseph said.
“When the cases have been lodged [and] when the information that needs to be out there is out there we will have the discussions…In my mind, we have enough there to lodge the cases and to take the matter to court. I’m awaiting the legal advice of government to tell me when these cases will be lodged and how it will be lodged,” he stated.
There was a total budget of $118 million dollar for the St. Jude project.
The hospital is currently operating at the George Odlum Stadium where it was temporarily moved due to a 2009 fire at its previous location.