October 22, 2004

Government challenged

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has challenged the ULP Administration to deny that local company Franco Construction has been sub-contracted to do the entire construction of the so-called first phase of the Cross Country Road.

Eustace issued the challenge at a press conference at Democrat House Tuesday, as he disclosed some details of a sub-contract he said he had seen. {{more}}

“I call on the Government to say that this contract has not been sub-contracted to Franco Construction. I make that call on the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines today, 19th of October, 2004. Tell me that this contract has not been sub-contracted to Franco; that the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not being made fools of again. Because, you know, what that amounts to is deception, corruption, nepotism. That is what it amounts to”.

Eustace charged that Franco Construction is owned by the family of Transport and Works Minister, Julian Francis, who has ministerial responsibility for the Cross Country Road project. And members of the firm serve on a committee which advises him on the project.

The minister’s brother, who is a civil engineer, is an employee of the ministry Senator Francis heads.

The Opposition Leader also charged that the contract, which was not shown to the media, provides “for all the asphalt for the project to be supplied from Ottley Hall” where, he said, Franco Construction has its asphalt plant.

Eustace noted that in the contract, he saw no evidence that the entire works for the project was being sub-contracted.

He therefore made a call for the Government to clear the air on the issue.

The Opposition Leader further called on the Transport and Works minister Juian Francis, who he claimed has a vested interest in Franco Construction, to clear the air on the issue or resign.

“I call on Minister Francis to say that this is not so – that OECC has not sub-contracted the whole works of the Rose Hall/Troumaca road rehabilitation at the cost of 6.7 million dollars to Franco – because that is entirely unacceptable and immoral.”

He continued that given the minister’s family relationship and the role Franco Constuction is playing, in terms of advising Senator Francis on the cross country road, “I call on him to come to the nation to say whether it is so or not. If he cannot, if he cannot, say that it is not so, then minister Francis should leave the government of St. Vincent- Minister Francis should resign from the Government of ST. Vincent and the Grenadines”, he stated.

Eustace said he was alarmed when he saw the documentation and it was of paramount importance the Government cleared the air on the issue, because it had far-reaching implications for international donors who finance projects here.