Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

The government has announced its intentions to “restructure the delivery of engineering and professional services in the public sector” if it does not see improvements in the Ministry of Works.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement on Monday, resulting in an accusation from the opposition one day later that the government was criticising staff at the ministry but not the minister of works.

In his budget address on Monday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that although commendable work is done by many of the professionals in the Ministry of Transport and Works, “it is to be admitted that some of them are not sufficiently pulling their weight; this is unacceptable.

“I am urging enhanced professionalism and diligent work on a timely basis by all professionals in this Ministry and others to get the work done.”

Gonsalves told Parliament that he is watching carefully, this year, the performance of the professionals in the Ministry of Transport and Works.

“I intend to meet with them shortly for a frank discussion. If I see no sufficient improvement, my government will restructure the delivery of engineering and professional services, in the public sector.  I expect our professionals in the Ministry of Works and elsewhere to lift their game markedly,” he said.

In his response to the budget on Tuesday, Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, said he did not see Minister of Transport and Works, Sen. Julian Francis, applauding as his colleagues did, when Gonsalves made the announcement.

“He was quite silent because he knows, Mr. Speaker, where the buck stops.

“If you are criticising the professionals in the ministry, the minister can’t be immune to that criticism,” Friday told parliament.

“So maybe that comes in more, how should I say it, discreet circles?”

Gonsalves’ observation came as he discussed the issue of roads in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The prime minister said that too many of the nation’s roads “are in an awful physical condition”.

He said his government has invested more monies annually in roads and bridges, and done more construction, reconstruction and repairs on roads and bridges than any other government in the nation’s history.

“Still, resource and other limitations have constrained even more work on our nation’s road infrastructure.  Road building, reconstruction and repairs are very expensive,” Gonsalves said, adding that, for example, the rebuilding of the South Leeward Highway — which is running almost a year behind schedule — costs some EC$3 million per mile.

In the 2017 Budget, the recurrent allocation to Roads Bridges and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) amounts to EC$12.5 million; and the capital expenditure earmarked for roads and bridges in 2017 totals EC$51 million.

Among the principal capital road infrastructure projects for 2017 are: South Leeward Highway (EC$6 million); National Disaster Rehab on Road and other infrastructure (EC$16.3 million) financed by CDB and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Spring Village Bridge and River Defence Project (EC $8 million) financed by the Government of Mexico; Village Roads and Feeder Roads (EC $5.8 million), the initial roll-out of a $90 million project financed mainly by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); North Windward Highway Rehab (EC $1.5 million); Phase 2 Murray Road Rehab (EC$1.2 million); and Congo Valley Road (EC$700,000). Additionally, $6.7 million, funded through the United Kingdom government’s Export Guarantee Arrangement, is allocated for the restoration/refurbishment of numerous pieces of the heavy-duty equipment at Argyle that are to be transferred to BRAGSA for road works.

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2 replies on “PM tells Ministry of Works professionals to buck up or else…”

  1. Dr. Dexter Lewis says:

    Amazing to hear Goonsalves again blame civil servants for his government’s inability to do the people’s work. Remember when they blamed doctors for theft of supplies at the Hospital? Instead of doing the job (that the opposition was elected to do) he does a rewind on excuses.
    15 years later the Hospital is still not adequately supplied.

    The government has not funded roads repair in SVG and so all they are left with is to find someone, besides cousin Julian to blame: civil servants. And they are required to stay silent.

    He claims to have spent more than any other government in SVG on roads. Obviously, those monies did not end up on roads, but in pockets of fraudsters because we see the results when we drive the roads of SVG. I pass one divut everyday for the last 3 years that is about a foot deep and 6 feet long on a very busy road.

    Remember when this lot called what the opposition party did in the 80’s and 90’s as “goutti tracts”. Well we can do with some of those today instead of our tax monies going towards all too frequent foreign trips which do not benefit us.

    The Goonsalves regime needs to stop its frequent foreign trips, stop blaming others, and fix the little things in SVG. Never mind the big projects that are sink holes for taxpayers monies and never satisfy anything. Do the little things.

    I have watched over the last 45+ years, and especially over the last 15 years how the governments in SVG do not live up to their responsibilities to our communities, whereas the civilian population goes overboard in keeping up appearance and quality of private homes and private properties. And then the government dances in and will say to visitors: “See what nice homes we have here and what a good job I have been doing!”

    The unweary will applaud.

  2. If these demeaning grants — poor relief given from one government body to another — ever dried up, we would all have to suck salt big time.

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