Castries, Saint Lucia, Thursday November 18, 2021: — Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister says the decision by the previous administration to stop the construction of the near-completed St. Jude Hospital in 2016 was “deliberate and callous” and aimed at benefitting its friends.
But, he adds, his government plans to deliver on its election promise to complete its construction – and to find out if taxpayers’ money was well-spent on the project during the past five years.
Updating parliamentarians on Tuesday during its fourth sitting since the General Elections on July 26, the PM reminded the country that “construction stopped by the former government in 2016, (was) in an act of political retribution and selfish vindictive motives.”
Updating fellow members on the status of the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHSP), he recalled earlier addressing the issue at the sitting of September 14, 2021 and reported that the Review Committee formed since then “has completed its assignment and handed over the Final Report…” which will be submitted to parliamentarians for perusal.
However, PM Pierre said, “There are some critical findings of note…”
Firstly, he said, “The Review Committee estimates that the ‘new’ hospital remains less than 30%complete…” and it would be “impractical to work on the hospital while patients are housed on the bottom floor.
Secondly, he said, “The report has the cumulative expenditure on the SJHRP Phase 2 (from commencement in February 2019 to July 2021) at $118.05 million,’ of which “$89.3Million has been paid to date.”
The committee discovered “that there is no program for the completion of any part of Phase 2… to facilitate the transfer of the operations from the George Odlum Stadium to the St. Jude Hospital into part or all of the lower level of Phase 2.”
The PM said, “It is clear… that the UWP government failed in its duty to provide healthcare to the people of the South by completing the construction of the St. Jude Hospital.”
He said, “That decision was deliberate, callous and aimed at financially benefitting members of the administration and their friends.”
The PM said his administration plans to complete the construction of the hospital’s First Phase “and will seek the engagement of PAHO to identify a senior-level official to coordinate and provide general oversight to the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project.”
And finally he promised: “We will also seek to find out if taxpayers’ funds were used in a prudent and honest manner in the construction of the so-called ‘new’ St. Jude Hospital.