By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – On review of the article ‘Criminal neglect’, ‘unpardonable’ defines healthcare in St Lucia, comes the current reflection to prime minister Philip Pierre, stating Tuesday, April 26, 2022, that: “those who flagrantly wasted the taxpayer’s money on the St Jude hospital will have to account.”
This also captures the prevailing view for a reset of policy and unified commitment, to data analysis of an upward trajectory of the sixth wave of COVID-19 in Saint Lucia. “To date (May 9, 2022), a total of 53, 670 individuals have been fully vaccinated. Another 5,320 are partially vaccinated and 7, 301 have received their booster shot.”
On Thursday, January 20, the United States donated a 40-bed field hospital and three utility vehicles to the government of Saint Lucia during a handover ceremony at the St Lucia Fire Service Training Center in Vieux Fort.
The donation of the field hospital and utility vehicles, valued at more than US$650,000, will help respond to the ongoing pandemic and expand the ministry of health’s capacity to address future challenges from natural disasters. This donation was made possible through the US military’s US Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June 1 through November 30 and normally peaks in August and September. Scientists predict seventh straight above-average Atlantic hurricane season.
The domestic environment
“Following the pandemic-induced historic downturn in 2020, the domestic economy continued to be influenced by developments in the global economy, exhibiting signs in 2021 of a steady path towards recovery amidst the persistent adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pace of the rebound was however dampened by the adverse effects of hurricane Elsa in July. The ongoing recovery in tourism and the wider domestic economy boosted livestock production while supply-side shortages, caused by hurricane Elsa, led to a setback in crop production and exports, particularly in the second half of 2021.” ~ Budget policy statement, prime minister Philip J. Pierre.
St Jude hospital
“Between the year 2010, the commencement of the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHRP) and August 2016, a sum of EC$98 million was spent, with an additional EC$50 million projected to complete and commission a fully furnished and equipped St Jude hospital, at a cost of EC$148 million” said prime minister Philip Pierre. “Interestingly, a few weeks ago, an official document surfaced from the Attorney General’s Office dated July 15, 2021, 11 days before the general elections called the Revised Draft Finance Agreement for SJHRP in the sum of EC$70.75 million for the continuation of works at St Jude hospital including finance cost of EC$6.66 million, to be settled within one year for the following works:
- Architectural work; and,
- Transition cost to bring ground floor into use.”
According to prime minister Pierre, “ … on the strength of these figures it would mean that to complete only the ground floor of the St Jude hospital, without fixtures and equipment, would cost the taxpayers of Saint Lucia the shocking sum of $188 million for an incomplete hospital, $40 million more than the projected final cost of the initial St Jude Reconstruction Project which started in 2010. Those involved in this flagrant waste of public funds must account to the people of Saint Lucia.”
Meanwhile, I want to assure the people of Saint Lucia that work will commence this year to complete the St Jude hospital and have it commissioned within a reasonable time.
“This year ”, said prime minister Pierre “an allocation has been made of EC$1.5 million for remedial works to alleviate the less than desirable conditions at the St Jude hospital.”
Unpardonable exposed to catastrophic eventualities
On Saturday, April 16, 2022, a section of the canopy on the East Wing of the stadium collapsed. “We are working with the ministry of infrastructure to see how best we can make the stadium even safer,” minister for health, Moses Jn Baptiste explained. ” The conditions are not ideal at all, and we have said so over and over again, and we are working feverishly to ensure we return to the original St Jude site,” he stated.
In the interim, residents of the South of the Island and Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) remain exposed to catastrophic eventualities, on Wednesday witnessed protest action adjacent to the George Oldum Stadium, which currently house the St Jude hospital.
The consideration here should be viewed more as a warning, to prioritise and get the nation’s healthcare optimize, and set the pattern for a new era.
“We know that corruption breeds inefficiency, illegal appropriation of wealth, wastage of resources, and disregards the interest and needs of the most vulnerable,” prime minister Pierre continued, “we are in an advanced stage of preparation for enacting the relevant legislation to appoint a Special Prosecutor, to conduct investigations into acts of alleged public corruption.”
That said, it should also pave the way “seeking the forfeiture” of assets, movable and immovable property, acquired in bribes to current and former officials [including family members]. This should also include campaign financing, drug and firearm trafficking, human trafficking and quasi companies fronting the proceeds of official corruption in Saint Lucia.
Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions,” Luke 12:15. Are there ways in which priorities are out of order?
Arguably, the accounting and scientific departments of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), the Inland Revenue Department, and the Customs and Excise Department can get the ball rolling based on available data.