LEADER of the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and of the Opposition in Parliament, Phillip J Pierre Thursday failed to provide reasons for the delayed completion of St. Jude Hospital, under his Labour Party Government for five years, and which has been a source of concern to the country.
Claiming to, want to avoid speculating on the unfinished project unless the government released the technical audit on the hospital which has been leaked and is now in the public domain, Pierre took the opportunity at a press conference to call on government to release the document for public discussion.
The document has been in government’s possession since January, a fact made known by Economic Affairs Minister, Guy Joseph who has promised that the leak will not change anything regarding government’s plans where the audit’s findings are concerned.
Pierre wants the audit report not only made public but also tabled in the House of Parliament and debated upon.
“A lot has been said by Guy Joseph on the Audit Report into the St. Jude Hospital. An unbudgeted sum of almost one million dollars was paid to undertake a Technical Audit. The last pronouncement from the Minister was that the report was in the hands of the Attorney General. The time has come for the people of Saint Lucia to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Pierre said.
According to him the SLP has asked that Joseph presents an official copy of the report for public discussion, but so far he had refused to do so.
“Accordingly, the Labour Party will table a resolution at the next meeting of Parliament for the report to be made a document of the House and to be debated. The report was financed from taxpayers’ monies and the public deserves to hear a debate on the contents,” Pierre said.
However the SLP leader declined comment on whether his government changed the plans for St. Jude when it took office in 2011. He also declined comment when asked why St. Jude was not completed during his party’s term of office which was from 2011 – 2016.
Pierre also could not clarify whether his team found a plan of sorts for the hospital’s reconstruction and whether that plan was followed or changed by his team.
However he said that St. Jude was not being built along the lines of the EU Owen King Hospital on the Millennium Highway which was constructed with a budgeted amount.
“The hospital (St. Jude) was being built on an as-you-get-fund basis. That is very important, it isn’t money that was there,” Pierre said.
Added Pierre: “St. Jude was started by the United Worker Party government. Nearly $30 million had been spent by the UWP. The consultant was chosen by the UWP, was kept (by us), site manager chosen by the UWP and was kept, contractor chosen by the UWP was kept. The plan to repair the surgical wing expanded and expanded with good reason. We continued on what they started with the same personnel,” he said.
Pierre said St. Jude was built with grants, help, and support and was always a work in progress.
“There could not be a projected cost because there a no projected money. It (St. Jude) was being constructed as the money came,” Pierre said.
The leaked report paints a rather dismal picture of the Government of St. Lucia’s oversight of the hospital project, and gives a depressing view of the project’s management style, according to some sources.