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HIA Redevelopment Project was being Built in ‘Fast-Track’ Mode, PM Pierre

By Reginald Andrew

Prime Minister Philip J Pierre has accused the former regime of undertaking the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) Redevelopment Project in a “fast-track” mode.

He said the government has taken a revised policy procedure towards the rehabilitation works being undertaken at the HIA.

PM Pierre stated it was necessary to abort the previous plans in order to cut down on costs and adequately restructure the status of the works.

The prime minister lamented that the former regime used ‘unethical’ strategies in awarding contracts for the HIA project.

“We will not be putting the country in a billion-dollar debt, nor are we signing any contract where the loan is tied to a contractor,” he told reporters at media briefing this week.

He added that the government will not sign any contract where, apart from the interest rate, an eight percent is added on the loan agreement.

“The contract was given by Direct Award the largest infrastructural project in the country’s history was given via Direct Award,” PM Pierre said.

“The loan that was negotiated was tied to a contractor. The interest rate was 5% and every payment after that there was an 8% on top of it,” Pierre said.

He reiterated that with every payment made to the contactor, there was an added payment of 8% added to the costs.

Pierre noted that the estimated costs of expenses for works at HIA was 13%. He said there was no way the government could have continued in that direction.

Reiterating that the current administration is a “government of principle”, the prime minister said, the authorities continued with the works that had begun on the Terminal Building and the Control Tower.

He recalled that the HIA redevelopment project was initiated by this St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration as outlined in the party’s manifesto.

Pierre said this administration pushed for the expansion of the HIA and for works on the runway. He added, that it was the SLP administration that proposed for the implementation of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) for HIA, and “we are fully supportive and when we lost the election in 2006, we supported the expansion of the Hewanorra International Airport.”

The works at the airport should be undertaken through a “pre-arrangement” contract, as obtained in countries like Jamaica (Montego Bay), Barbados, the Bahamas, Bermuda and “hundreds of airports in the world are done by PPP.”

He said  that the former regime operated contrarily, the prime minister stated  and we are not putting this country through that kind of debt for an airport.

He said, for this fiscal year, government plans to undertake works on the Terminal Building.

Providing more information about prior works undertaken at the HIA, he stated that the “largest infrastructural project in the country was built without a Bill of Quantities.”

The prime minister contended that the HIA project was undertaken in a haphazard fashion, without “no Bill of Quantities, no costs it was built on a fast-track method so, pay as you go.”

He said this administration took steps to rectify the situation and the government advertised for the “preparation of the Bill of Quantities,” which resulted in the St Lucia Air and Seaports (SLASPA) hiring a contractor, last week.

Subsequently the PM said, “we now have to jump the ‘diplomatic hurdle’ of speaking to the Taiwanese government, so that we can disentangle ourselves from the  arrangement and that’s what bad policy causes.”

Quizzed about the role that technocrats in the government ministries play in such contracultural arrangements, he said, the technocrats follow the instructions laid out by the ruling administration and are not duly responsible for the outcomes.

“If a minister of finance goes out and negotiates a loan and he ties that loan to a contractor that is bad governance, the technocrat is not responsible for governance,” Pierre contended.

He said, assessing out of ‘good faith’ whether it is a good or bad contract, the technocrat may choose to stay or resign from the government.

“There is legality and there is morality,” the prime minster noted. “There is what is illegal and there is what is not moral, governance, ethics, principle, and concern for people. You do not legislate these things, these things have to come from within.”

PM Pierre said that in the upcoming Policy Statement, government will lay out “some policies that shows how this government cares about people  and what we’ve done and where we are going, as it relates to people.”

1 Comment

  1. So if you keep on repeating this nonsense, it automatically becomes the truth? Hasn’t it been told many times that the bases on which the loan was given, had to do with the project being undertaken by the very country who granted the loan? Yet as a pm you are still misleading the country with lies.

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