The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) financed City enhancement project was too large and faced several challenges in its execution.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler offered this defence today in the House of Assembly as the Freundel Stuart administration continues to face opposition charges of government’s ineptitude in the execution of the project.
In a strong defence of government’s action, the St Michael North West MP said: “A lot of misinformation on the project has gone abroad. In the view of Cabinet the project to upgrade Cats’ Castle, Greenfields, the Garden Land, The City and Allen View, St Thomas was too large and too involved. One had to look at the time factor and the capacity. You were looking at major upgrades in Cats’ Castle, Greenfields, Garden Land, Allen View, Pile Bay, and Silver Sands, all of that was to be done in a very short space of time.”
The finance minister told parliament that all of this was to be done in addition to a subsidy programme of $10 000 for house repairs.
Sinckler pointed out that over and above the disbursement of the subsidy programme challenges appeared in the project.
“When we started out implementing the programme, the government put out a tender for surveying work to be done in the Greenfields, you could not get people to tender. When we asked reputable professionals why they would not respond to the tendering process for this very lucrative work, they said they were afraid to go into the area and do work. We sent out the work to tender again and received one tender. One person responded and the tender came after the time period had closed. The IADB did not accept that the tender had been properly placed.
That is a fact.
“It is not that we deliberately tried to stop the people from Greenfields benefiting from the project. These are the realities. You cannot just give money to people like that because there are conditions attached to the loan. Let it go out that at Allen View when we started to process the tenders geo-technical studies were commissioned as far back as 2001 and new studies were commissioned that indicated that advised the government not to proceed with any heavy construction because it could compromise the roof of Harrison’s Cave.
In fact it said there were fissures. Part of the study indicated that there was surface water seeping through some of those fissures into the roof of the cave. One resident had to be resited because of issues of fissures,” Sinckler added.
The Minister of Finance told the House of Assembly that some residents of Allen View had to be relocated to have house repairs done.
Offering further defense of government’s handling of the project, Sinckler pointed out Government’s chief surveyor had indicated that the entire Greenfields area had to be resurveyed because in many cases there were neither clear titles to land nor alignment of properties.
The St Michael North West MP further pointed out that surveyors employed in government’s surveying department declined to work in the Greenfields.