PLANS by the government to haul person or persons before the courts to give an account of the monies spent to date on the uncompleted St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project are well advanced as three lawsuits are expected to be lodged soon.
Word of this new development in the hospital saga was confirmed to this reporter by a government source this week, who declined to name the parties against whom the litigations will be lodged.
The source insisted that the charges will be filed from the Office of the Attorney General and that those responsible will have to pay for failure to give accurate accounts of the monies spent on the hospital.
The government is said to have a witness who is prepared to testify at the trial. Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, two months ago, said that person, who conducted the technical audit on the project, has stated a willingness to testify.
But while the parties to the lawsuits were not revealed, hints that they very well may be from or associated with the Labour Party were given by Economic Development Minister, Guy Joseph, who told reporters that there was no way he would sit by and allow the Labour Party to get away with what it did to St. Jude when it formed the government.
“They can march as many times as they want, somebody must account for what happened at St. Jude,” Joseph said Monday, referring to the recently-held march for St. Jude organized by the Labour Party.
Joseph took former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to task, saying that by the latter’s own account in 2015, he had expected to spend no more than $60 million on the hospital.
“I want him to account to the people of St. Lucia where the other $58 million and the other millions that are needed to complete the hospital, where is it coming from?” Joseph said.
Joseph wants public discussions on the hospital to move away from the almost $1 million spent on a technical audit for the hospital to the $118 million claimed by the audit to have already been spent on the hospital’s reconstruction.
On Monday, Joseph showed reporters a letter purportedly written by the consultant on the hospital project, Mandish Singh, to someone named Clarita Posada, Product Manager of Biomedical International Corp. in Miami, Florida, indicating a tentative completion date for the hospital. That letter was written on January 13, 2016.
Singh, in that letter, stated that despite the numerous third party delays experienced over the years, and following discussions with the Project Management Unit, the aim was to complete the buildings by August 2016, after which testing and commissioning would commence.
“We are very optimistic that this date is achievable based on the progress of works to date and the projected works to be executed in the next two quarters,” the letter read in part.
According to Joseph, what is interesting about the letter is the announcement that the hospital would have been completed just about two months after his party came into office in June of last year.
He wants to know why the hospital has not been completed based on the information in the letter and why St. Lucians want to hold him accountable for that. He promised that the St. Jude Hospital matter will remain in the public domain because he will not step back and allow what has already happened to continue.
Regarding the company in Miami, Florida called Biomedical International Corp., Joseph said it was paid in excess of $5 million for equipment for St. Jude since 2011/2012. He said the time period for the procurement of the equipment had lapsed several times.
The technical audit stated that $118 million was already spent on the hospital, while a handover report by the Project Manager, Shanta King, placed that figure at $80 million.