Following is a statement issued by the National Democratic Congress (NDC):
The National Democratic Congress(NDC) is deeply troubled and dismayed by the information reaching the Grenadian people that the Government of Australia has withdrawn its financial support for the construction of a new Parliament building for Grenada.
The old Houses of Parliament which was constructed in the 1780s was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan on September 7, 2004. Upon his assumption of the office of Prime Minister in July 2008, Hon. Tillman Thomas led an initiative in the international community to mobilise resources to construct a new Parliament building for Grenada.
We would recall that at that time, the international economic situation was shrouded in uncertainty. Nevertheless, consistent with our democratic traditions, our shared values and our unswerving commitment to the promotion of the fundamental human rights of our citizens, the Government of Australia responded positively to the appeal of Prime Minister Thomas.
On January 31, 2012, by a Memorandum of Understanding, the Australian Government agreed to fund the construction of a new Parliament building to a limit of AUD 5.2 million.
On the basis of a joint commitment to global cooperation and solidarity, the Government of the United Arab Emirates subsequently agreed to fund the balance of the estimated construction amount of AUD 2 million.
An Australian based Architectural Advisor was provided by the Australian government to develop Design Terms of Reference and oversee the pre and post contract activities. The advisor visited Grenada for three weeks to advance his work.
The Governments of Grenada and Australia agreed on an architectural design competition, open to CARICOM architects, to select an architectural consultant to design and document the Grenada Houses of Parliament and then administer on behalf of the Government of Grenada a building construction contract to construct the building and to specify, procure, and oversee the delivery and commissioning of furniture and equipment for the building.
The submissions of the best seven architects were evaluated by a panel of experts chaired by Eng. Cecil Harris, the Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Works, who, at the time, was an expert seconded to the Government of Grenada by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation.
Eng. Harris was identified in the Australian advisor’s report as the person to spearhead the project on behalf of the Government of Grenada.
The Terms of Reference for the design were: A well designed,
constructed and furnished Houses of Parliament that is modern, functional, and cost effective, reflects Grenada’s Westminster
democratic traditions, recognises St. George’s architectural heritage,
has a “green” environmental footprint and is a landmark building that takes account of the site’s significant location and topography.
The Grenadian firm, COCOA Architecture, won the design competition for the Grenada Houses of Parliament.
In the light of the high cost to the government and people of Grenada for the rental of the Grenada Trade Centre to transact our nation’s parliamentary business, we were heartened by the progress made toward the realisation of that critical project; there was a tremendous sense of anticipation that work on the ground would soon commence.
Indeed, according to the architects in charge of the project, all Pre-qualified contractors had been notified and construction was scheduled to begin within three months. We are therefore profoundly disappointed and dismayed by the failure of the new Government of Grenada to safeguard the gains of the project.
The position of the Government of Grenada is that the action of the
Australian government highlighted a shift in Australian policy toward the region. However, we are persuaded that missteps by the Grenadian government undermined confidence in its ability to implement the project successfully.
The Government of Australia was impressed by the professionalism, commitment and dedication of Eng. Cecil Harris to the project and offered to give him an oversight role in its implementation.
We are convinced that the failure or refusal of the NNP Administration to retain the services of Eng. Cecil Harris, contributed immensely to a diminution of confidence in the government to successfully implement this major project.
The people of Grenada will not consider plain declarations as of any
real or concrete value, divorced from practical actions.
The NDC calls on the Government of Grenada to move, as a matter of urgency, to find a credible partner to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of Australian funding.
The people of Grenada deserve nothing less!