The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s says it has now secured all the monies needed to begin construction of a new Parliament building, a project initiated by former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Business, Nickolas Steele disclosed at last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing that his recent trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly resulted in Grenada receiving the promised finances from the United Arab Emirates.
According to Minister Steele, the UAE has already initiated the first US$1 million tranche and has given a commitment to the project for the next two years, which would be the life span of the project.
“So yes, it is now confirmed and the first tranche has been sent. If it (the money) hasn’t arrived in Grenada yet it’s just communication between the Ministry of Finance and the United Arab Emirates in terms of sending the account”, he said.
Before losing the February 19 general elections to the New National Party (NNP), then Prime Minister Thomas had often stated that he had gotten commitments from the UAE and the Government of Australia to provide the finance needed for the newlook Parliament.
Grenada’s original Parliament building located at York House in the town of St George remains in ruins with trees now growing from the dilapidated structure, nine years after Hurricane Ivan demolished the building in September 2004.
In the 2011 Budget Presentation, then Finance Minister Nazim Burke told the nation, “The preparatory works (for the Parliament building) will continue having received re-assurances from the Government of Australia that it is still committed to provide US$5 million for this project.”
Burke announced in his speech that the signing of a grant agreement between the Government of Grenada and Australia with the receiving funds slightly higher.
“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note that the grant agreement between Australia and Grenada for A$5.2 million was signed by our Prime Minister in January of this year. This sum will go a far way to finance the new parliament, which is estimated to cost US$7.5 million. Government is actively pursuing additional grant financing for the entire project cost.”
New Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell in presenting the 2013 Budget told the nation, the Parliament building project “will cost appropriately $30 million and (is to) be funded with significant grant assistance from the Government of Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) … “
Since the destruction of the Parliament Building in 2004, the Grenada Trade Centre at Morne Rouge in Grand Anse has been used for sittings of Parliament.
In October 2012, the Caribbean Office of Cooperates Architecture (COCOA) was awarded the contract for the designing of the New Grenada Houses of Parliament building.
The next steps towards the realisation of Parliament Building would be the completion of the designs then the short listing of contractors, tender submissions by the contractors and the contract award.
The start of construction was promised by Congress towards the end of the second quarter of 2013.
The site for the new Grenada House of Parliament building will be at the Governor General’s property at Upper Luca Street in St. George’s.
A new date for the actual start on the project has not been given by the Mitchell government.