Our government is extremely pleased that St. Jude Hospital is finally nearing completion. There have been many challenges in completing this hospital and I must admit that this process has taken much longer than we had originally anticipated.
Allow me to provide some background on this so that you may better understand.
Originally, the United Workers Party administration had decided to renovate St. Jude Hospital, and it spent EC$45 million on this exercise, before it realised that the problems associated with renovation were so significant that it would have been better to demolish the structure and rebuild.
Therefore, while some of the $45 million was used for the demolition of the old structure, it is clear that both time and money were wasted because of the original decision by the UWP to renovate.
When the decision was made to rebuild St. Jude, no source of financing was identified and the Government was hoping to finance this project from Bonds.
It was not until Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony visited Taiwan in November 2013 and met with then Taiwanese President Ma that any external source of funds for the construction of St Jude Hospital had been identified.
In October 2014, the Government of Saint Lucia signed a loan with the Taiwan Export-Import Bank for the reconstruction of St. Jude Hospital and the first set of funds from this loan was disbursed to the Government of Saint Lucia in January 2015.
There were also problems with the main contractor who had been engaged to undertake the construction. He experienced financial difficulties and had to be terminated in 2014, causing a further set back to the project.
When the construction of St. Jude Hospital is completed, which we anticipate will happen toward the end of this year, the residents of the south of the island in particular, and the people of Saint Lucia in general, will be extremely pleased and proud of the end product.
We will have a new St Jude that is equal to the Owen King-EU Hospital. In fact, the expenditure on St. Jude Hospital, when it is completed, including furniture, fittings and equipment, will be close to EC$150 million.
The expenditure on the Owen King-EU Hospital, minus furniture and equipment was EC$152 Million, with an additional 9 million Euros spent on furniture and equipment.
So, in effect, when you look at our work in the health sector in its totality, with the Wellness Centre, which was a product of the last Labour administration and the numbers of health centres we have either built or renovated, Saint Lucia will have the best health care infrastructure of any country in the Eastern Caribbean, and quite possibly the English-speaking Caribbean.
All of this because you have a Labour Government that is dedicated to looking after the health and wellbeing of its citizens.