Money still needed to finish Parliament Building

An additional US $2.5 million is needed for the completion of the state of the art Parliament Building situated at Mt. Wheldale, St. George’s.

This was announced by Minister of Communication, Works and Public Utilities, Gregory Bowen as he addressed members of the media at the weekly post-Cabinet Briefing held at the Ministerial Complex.

The project started with a promise of US$5million from Australia and another financial package from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

However, Australia pulled back on its commitment in 2014 but Mexico stepped forward to meet the US$5 million shortfall.

According to Minister Bowen, this has proven to be insufficient for the completion of the building.

He said the US $5 million given by Mexico and the UAE is not enough to successfully meet the high standards that should be followed through in completing the building.

“When you look at what needs to be done and to ensure that all the safety nets are in with respect to vulnerability and natural disaster and all that needs to be done to be redesigned so that you meet certain standards with respect to the site – that has increased the cost now”, he added.

The senior government minister pointed out that an additional US$2.5 million is needed but borrowing is not an option for government and donors are being sought to fill the financial gap.

“We’ve embarked on the process of writing up the project – showing where we are and seeking donor funding. We do have UNOPS on board; that’s the United Nations Office of Project Supervision, their head office is in Washington – they are well reputed”, he said.

“So, with their help we believe that we can go back to even some of those from Mexico or the UAE or DFID or Denmark or these places… we have identified some persons”, he added.

Minister Bowen told reporters that the Parliament project is earmarked to be finished in January or February next year.

“…So, we hope by that time we will be able to get the other $2.5 million to put in there. If not it has to come from local funds because we must complete this hallmark of our democracy.

“If we cannot get it, it must come from local funds, from that limited pool which so many demands are being made presently.

The Works Minister disclosed that the US$2.5 million will be used for external works and the completion of internal works in the Parliament building.

He said, “You will see that the outside is pure mud. So, even if you can go into this building, you must do the external works. We do have some funds remaining but you must buy the furniture, you must equip the place for modern recording – no longer do we just sit there typing out, we speak and the equipment translate it and type it out for you and so must purchase all these things.

“…We must buy the security glass and those glass must not be like these here (glass at the Ministry of Works Conference Room) … not that these here can’t work but if a category five (Hurricane), we don’t have category six but assuming something much stronger than five hits, we must ensure that glass meets the requirement”, he added.

Additionally, Minister Bowen told reporters that external drains need to be constructed around the building to protect the people of San Souci who are already complaining about the heavy flow of water that is coming from the project site.

Speculation is rife that the Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) government is looking to campaign on the new Parliament Building and a partial opening of the Silver Sands hotel project as its showpiece for the upcoming general election.

Within months of coming back into office following the 2013 general election, the regime was forced to introduce a series of austerity measures to deal with a severe fiscal situation including high and mounting debts.

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