UWP Criticises Secrecy In Halls Of Justice Project – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has called out the government, claiming secrecy and mismanagement regarding the multi-million dollar Halls of Justice project.

A release from the desk of UWP Public Relations Officer Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute has demanded transparency from the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration on the matter.

The complete release appears below:

The United Workers Party (UWP) strongly condemns the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP)

Government for its ongoing pattern of secrecy and mismanagement concerning the new Halls of Justice project. On April 19th, a sod-turning ceremony was held, shrouded in secrecy with no local media invited, contrary to the principles of transparency and accountability expected in a democratic society.

As is typical of this SLP administration, they opted to manage public communication through controlled narratives, excluding our local journalists while details of the project were released to and published by the Trinidad Guardian.

According to reports, the new Halls of Justice, with a staggering price tag of US$61 million or EC$162 million, not including financing cost, for a 33,000 square foot facility, equates to an exorbitant cost of $4,930 per square foot.

This cost is nearly ten times the construction cost of the most expensive building previously erected in this country. Such financial decisions with serious implications for all Saint Lucians, warrant public scrutiny and justification, yet our Government remains silent and excludes the media.

Once again, inexplicable and exorbitant debts are being accrued by this Government which will burden the taxpayers of this country for the foreseeable future.

This indiscriminate debt assumption and uncontrolled spending will cripple our people by stifling the opportunities for economic growth laid down by the UWP administration when it left office in July 2021 where the economy was on a clear upwards trajectory with record tourism arrivals and job creation.

Even more concerning is the lack of a tendering process and the financing arrangement through Republic Bank, which has deviated from the customary procedures involving the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) and the National Investment Promotions Inc. (NIPRO).

Why were representatives from NIC and NIPRO present at the ceremony if not to mislead the public about the nature of their involvement? Clarification must be provided to the Saint Lucian public on these issues.

The chosen location in the heart of the city deviates from previous plans that considered traffic flow, accessibility, and logistical efficiency.

The new site near vital city infrastructure will likely result in heavy congestion, already an issue in Castries, more challenges relating to parking, and potential structural impacts on neighboring buildings as result of the proposed pilling, including our landmark Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the remaining CDC Buildings.

The United Workers Party demands immediate transparency about the financing and operational details of this project. We call on the Government to disclose all aspects of the Halls of Justice project to the public and to engage in a process that respects the principles of fairness, competitiveness and prudence so the public is satisfied.

The UWP remains committed to holding the Government accountable and insists on a governance approach that upholds the integrity and responsible management of public resources. The people of Saint Lucia deserve no less.