A meat processing facility under construction at Vieux Fort will not be used to raise broiler chickens for meat production, Senator Dr. James Fletcher has said, as he attempted to put to rest concerns raised by the Opposition.
Government has said that the abattoir will be used for the slaughter of pig, cow, goat and other ruminants.
However, during the senate debate on the Appropriations Bill recently, Fletcher has had to discredit rumours from Opposition Parliamentarian Guy Joseph that the facility will produce broilers and cause unexpected costs for government.
According to the GIS website, the minister noted that, “Anyone who knows anything about meat processing, knows that you cannot process broilers together with ruminants. You cannot do it. You cannot do it on a top floor, in a basement, anywhere.”
“So for Senator Joseph to stand up in the Senate and try to mislead the people of Saint Lucia by saying the reason there are cost overruns with the meat processing facility is because this government has decided it will process broilers… he knows that is not true.”
Fletcher explained that cost overruns at the facility stem from inefficient construction of the building, which the then United Workers Party Administration was warned about.
Senator Fletcher read from a letter to the previous minister for agriculture of the UWP Government in 2009 from former Taiwan Ambassador Tom Chou, cautioning of several construction and design aspects of the project.
“If its construction at this stage does not meet the standards or follow the drawings, the structure may very likely crack, deflect or even collapse at a certain point in time. That is the risk we cannot afford to take or accept,” Dr. Fletcher quoted an excerpt of the letter.
Fletcher explained that his administration has considered the recommendations made by the original Taiwanese designer for the project going forward.
Upon completion, the facility is expected to cost nearly $14 million dollars ($12-million grant funding contributed by the Taiwanese government. ($8 million towards the construction of the building and $4 million for equipment).
Saint Lucia’s contribution is valued at approximately $1.8 million.