A MEETING with residents from the south is being planned by Economic Affairs Minister Guy Joseph for later this month or early next month to explain the situation as it pertains to the St. Jude Hospital project.
“By then we should have the first preliminary report, (on the project)”, Joseph said.
An audit of the project is currently ongoing and is expected to cost $920,000 which is said to be the final contract sum and not $800,000 which was previously cited, which Joseph said was what was quoted during negotiations.
The audit and the fee attached to it have become talking points in the country with many persons claiming the fee is exhorbitant.
But Joseph does not share that view saying that the audit, which began a couple weeks ago, should never have been an issue, particularly its cost. The issue, he said, is the $95 million that has already been spent on the hospital’s reconstruction which should have given the country a completed hospital by now but has not.
“We have spent $95 million and I believe a fair amount is not accounted for,” Joseph said.
The Minister did not clarify what he meant by that, however, saying that there will always be a cost in finding out what exactly happened with the money spent so far on the hospital.
Joseph who spoke to reporters’ yesterday said the hospital’s reconstruction should not have cost $50 million.
“I am not making any judgment calls on anything, the audit report will speak for itself,” he said.
The Minister said he will not call the names of persons connected to the hospital project either. The only way he will do that, he said, is if it becomes a government policy.
One reason he gave for not mentioning names connected to the hospital project is for fear that by doing so he could prejudice any legal case government may wish to bring against certain individuals connected to the project.
“I am going to play it the way I believe is safest to recover as much as we can for the government and people of St. Lucia,” Joseph said in reference to monies already spent on the hospital.