RAISE Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc, the non-governmental organization fighting against abuse of women and children in all its forms here, has called for the resignation of Health Minister Senator Mary Isaac.
“Having listened to the many incoherent, jumbled and confusing pronouncements of Senator Mary Isaac prior to and during her appearance on ‘Newsmaker Live’ with respect to the completion of St. Jude Hospital, the transitioning from Victoria Hospital to Owen King EU Hospital and the proposed privatization of the public health system, combined with Senator Isaac’s inability to lead the Ministry of Health & Wellness, leaves us with no choice but to demand her immediate resignation as Minister of Health, so [that] a suitable alternative can deal with this pending public health crisis in St. Lucia,” said the group in a press release issued yesterday.
However, the group’s demand is widely expected to be ignored by the government, which has continuously rejected nearly all its public pleas.
Government, just last week, refuted one of the group’s latest statements when it claimed that government would bring to parliament this week a move to amend the Millennium Heights Medical Complex from a Statutory Body to facilitate full privatization of the Owen King European Union Hospital.
The government said ‘every word’ in the press release by the group was ‘categorically wrong’.
One of the confusing statements made by Isaac on the television programme ‘Newsmaker Live’, according to Raise Your Voice, was that ‘EC$170 million’ was already spent on the St. Jude Hospital.
Isaac gave no indication where and how she came up with that figure, which contradicted figures mentioned by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph — and even figures noted in a Handover Report given to the government by Shanta King, the Project Manager of the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project from 2010 – 2016.
According to the report, the total project expenditure as of April 2009 – July 2016 totaled $98, 451, 346.85, while both Joseph and Chastanet cite amounts ranging from EX$118 million to EC$120 million.
The current school of thought in certain circles was that Isaac came up with that number after viewing a letter from the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister dated 30 March, 2016, which was a request for a Direct Award of Contract: St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction project – Design and Supervision: Halcrow Group Ltd.
According to the letter, the Halcrow Group submitted a fee proposal for a successful completion of the project.
The letter stated that this new award would result in a revised estimate for design and supervision services of XCD15.5 million (VAt inclusive) and that the total project cost is estimated at XCD178.7 million.
Meanwhile, Raise Your Voice said that Senator Isaac had “continuously failed the citizens as Minister of Health & Wellness”; and in addition, “she had not taken a strong, consistent and unwavering stance for the non-privatization of the Public Health System or for the completion of St. Jude Hospital, a critical institution for provision of health services to the people of the South and in case of emergency, as a trauma centre, should we ever have to deal with a mass casualty situation at the Hewannora International Airport.”
The release concluded: “Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia believes Senator Isaac has served no purpose but to confuse the masses and should resign effectively immediately.
“Meanwhile, we call on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to appoint a new Health Minister, transition from Victoria Hospital to the Owen King EU Hospital — which is a gift from the tax payers of the European Union to the people of Saint Lucia — and to complete St. Jude’s Hospital immediately.”