With the construction sector cited as the engine of growth for Grenada’s economic recovery, Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, said 2021 could be a watershed year for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
Continuing his series of meetings with the various ministries, the Prime Minister, who at the time, was the acting Minister for Infrastructure Development, challenged the management team and senior staff to further improve the ministry’s implementation rate.
He said, “Infrastructure development will lead to economic recovery and job creation. Therefore, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, must play a significant role. The tourism industry and the services sector have been hard hit by the pandemic. It therefore means that the public sector investment programme will play a more critical role in job creation through the implementation of the many Government projects we have planned and already secured funding for.”
Dr Mitchell noted that the ministry has already experienced an improvement in the implementation rate but stated that there is room for further improvement. He said, “Looking ahead, we have to challenge ourselves and measure our performance by the level of implementation. If we can achieve 75% this year, that would be ideal. One of the problems was lack of engineers but we have invested heavily in the technical aspect, to address that problem. Therefore, our rate of implementation should improve significantly this year.”
The Prime Minister reaffirmed Government’s commitment to moving ahead with major infrastructure projects including a new residence for the Governor General, a new Police Headquarters and Fire Station and a Legal Complex. These, Dr Mitchell said, would be done through a BOLT initiative – Build, Operate, Lease, Transfer. Expressions of interest have already been done for all three projects.
Dr Mitchell raised the issue of the Simon Culture Centre, work on which he said, needs to advance. Funding for the centre has already been budgeted but the project has been stuck in the design phase for a long time, making it a source of distress for the residents of St Andrew.
On the subject of roads, Dr Mitchell said some parts of the country’s road network require urgent attention to create a smoother ride for motorists and to ease the level of traffic congestion in some areas.
Ministry staff explained that they have been experiencing delays with the supply of material for paving roads, even though Government prepays for the product. It was also noted that some roads have reached their limit and in such cases patching is no longer effective. A programme of extensive road rehabilitation has been recommended.
The Prime Minister cautioned against waste and also underscored the importance of building capacity among local contractors. He said, “The Ministry of Works had a historical problem of waste. With the financial controls that now exist, we must ensure greater accountability in our operations. We cannot afford to waste the taxpayers’ money. On the subject of contracts, I fully support the approach that allows Grenadian contractors to gain experience but contracts must be awarded to competent persons. It is not about party politics but empowerment of our citizens to do serious work and contribute to the country’s development.”
Dr Mitchell also noted that changes are being considered for the Public Procurement Board, which is responsible for the proper functioning of Government’s procurement system. He said the intention is to make the board more efficient and effective, given the crucial role it plays in the development of the country.
The feedback from ministry staff was wide-ranging and included a need for more site clerks to work in collaboration with the engineers; a need for more road inspectors; making more roads concrete to improve durability, and the need for a dedicated communications officer for the ministry.
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