PM says Pre­de­ces­sor threw EU Un­der the Bus rather than take Blame!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The EC$160 mil­lion Euro­pean Union-funded Owen King Hos­pi­tal sits largely ig­nored near the Mil­len­nium High­way in Castries. The hos­pi­tal was to have re­placed the an­cient Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal as the na­tion’s pri­mary health fa­cil­ity. Con­struc­tion on the new hos­pi­tal be­gan nine years ago, and since its com­ple­tion in 2016 and sub­se­quent $100,000 nam­ing cer­e­mony months be­fore the 2016 elec­tions, the lon­gawaited tran­si­tion has yet to be made.

Dur­ing Tues­day’s House sit­ting, for­mer op­po­si­tion leader Kenny An­thony rose to de­bate a mo­tion that sought par­lia­men­tary ap­proval to bor­row EC$13 mil­lion for con­sul­tants. In stat­ing his dis­ap­proval of the mo­tion, the Vieux Fort South MP sin­gled out the EU and its track record for im­ple­men­ta­tion in the Caribbean re­gion.

“Ev­ery year you come to the House with a Bud­get,” he said. “You an­nounce what the al­lo­ca­tions are for, and then in the course of the year you look for the re­sults. But they are never there. When­ever you tackle the EU, they al­ways tell you that it has to do with the lack of ca­pac­ity in the var­i­ous gov­ern­ments.”

The for­mer PM said that he had al­ways chal­lenged the EU to do “an in­de­pen­dent au­dit of the pro­ce­dures that you are utiliz­ing to as­sess and mon­i­tor projects”. Cit­ing the OKEU and the time it took to be con­structed, he went on: “One of the fun­da­men­tal rea­sons why it has taken so long has to do with the EU, with its pro­cure­ment prac­tices, with the fact that the or­gan­i­sa­tion was not able to re­spond quickly and adeptly to the var­i­ous pro­pos­als and rec­om­men­da­tions com­ing from pub­lic sec­tor func­tionar­ies in the coun­try.”

He con­tin­ued: “It has noth­ing to do, as peo­ple as­sume, with the Min­istry of Health or pub­lic of­fi­cers. It had every­thing to do with the ap­proach of the EU be­cause, among other things, in the vast ma­jor­ity of cases they in­sisted that when bids had to be cre­ated to go out, in­ter­ested par­ties in the mem­ber states had to be given the op­por­tu­nity to bid.”

In re­sponse, Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet said that rather than ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for lack of im­ple­men­ta­tion, the for­mer prime min­is­ter chose to blame oth­ers, “by throw­ing the EU un­der the bus”.

---JSA

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony on Tues­day crit­i­cised the EU for the length of time OKEU took to com­plete.

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