As Budget 2020 discussions continue apace in the House of Assembly, Vincentians are being told of the national plans and programs that the Gonsalves led Unity Labour Party government intend to spend on for this year. Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves presented the $1.12B Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue to the House on January 22 and informed the nation of its 2020 myriad costs and innovative revenue earning means in a four-hour address earlier this week.

Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves presented the $1.12B Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue to the House on January 22 and informed the nation of its 2020 myriad costs and innovative revenue earning means in a four-hour address earlier this week.

The Public Access for Village Enhancement roads rehabilitation and construction project features prominently in the government’s 2020 mandate.

With “40 miles of access paths in villages across SVG” set out as it’s actionable objective, the Ministry of Transport and Works was allotted some $39 000 000.00 to finance the estimated costs associated with its operations for this year.

Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis presented a snapshot of the PAVE project to date. As part of his debate, Francis said a total of $149 243.00 was being spent on what appears to be construction contract costs in one unnamed constituency. “These are contracts being signed by BRAGSA with tradesmen in the individual constituencies. That is one constituency,” he said of the sums he listed as the apparent value of the contracts tendered.

In another constituency “$30 001, $36 001, $67 001, $34 007, $67 044, $44 642, $78 375, $91 872 – these are not Franco Construction, DIPCON and big contractors, you know? These are tradesmen, carpenters, masons in the individual constituencies… We have been talking PAVE now for two years. … Dill Morris and I worked out the 150 linear foot of a 4 foot sidewalk two and a half years ago, to use that as a measurement to make a project, to build a project to go to Kuwait uhhhh UAE [United Arab Emirates] and get funding for it. You say it takes fifteen years. I tell yo da one deh start two and a half years ago and we spending $5 million today!” Minister Francis told Parliament last Tuesday.

Francis emphasize that the “conception to completion” phase of the ongoing road works project is taking a fraction of the time it was said to take the James Mitchell led administration. Francis credited Sir James Mitchell while saying, “from conception to completion is between ten and fifteen years. James Mitchell said so in this House many times when he had cost overrun on projects or when he promised a project and it didn’t happen.”

Minister Francis was quick to remind the House “this is only half the money, you know. This is phase one, the other phase coming before the end of the year because I want to finish this to get the other half to finish it before the end of the year.”

With apparent ministerial prerogative, Francis announced his intended refusal to state absolute statistics as to the current number of persons employed and trucking services retained across the country as part of the PAVE project. “Ah ain’t wah frighten alyo yet,” Minister Francis explained.

jp.schwmon.vincy@gmail.com

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