PM says Predecessor threw EU Under the Bus rather than take Blame!
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”.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony on Tuesday criticised the EU for the length of time OKEU took to complete.