KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 18, IWN – Construction of the medical diagnostic centre in Georgetown continues and work is expected to be completed this year, although workers were sent home this month.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said the workers were sent home on Feb. 8, one day after turning up for work.
They were told that no money was in the relevant account, although $10 million was borrowed for the project in November, he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We are hoping to finish this year. I want to say that we have $10 million to be utilised this year for its completion and we have to work out, with the Cubans, the equipment which they had promised,” he said, adding that he wrote to Havana recently.
“But it (work) is on-going,” Gonsalves said.
“What had happened, they started to work on the 7th and on the 8th, fellas on the ground sent home the workers, because when they checked, the ministry told them — the Ministry of Works, or the Ministry of Health, whichever they checked — that there was no money, which had been released into the account,” he explained.
“… naturally, I hit the roof, because since in late November or early December, I had signed an agreement for $10 million and the first drawdown should have taken place on the 10th of December,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
“So, I asked what the hell had happened. So, I had to put pen to paper to write those concerned to tell them they must not get involved in lethargy on this matter. It’s one thing if I don’t have the money and I am looking for it — I can’t make bread out of stone; but, if I have the money, and bureaucratic inertia is preventing the money from moving from point A to point B [that is something else],” the Prime Minister said.
“I can’t do people work for them. But, happily, money is in that particular account for the purpose of doing the work,” he said.
The complex is a joint project between Kingstown and Havana.