Government is confident that it will be able to break ground on the Acute Referral Hospital in Arnos Vale by January 2023, now that the World Bank has increased funding for the proposed new medical facility.
This confidence was pronounced by Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves who was speaking at a press conference on April 28 on his return home after attending international financial meetings.
The World Bank has been engaged in the designing of the hospital, which has been earmarked for the northern end of the tarmac at the decommissioned ET Joshua Airport.
The Bank’s involvement also covers doing the necessary geological and environmental surveys to ascertain the necessities of the hospital, including staffing.
“All of that preliminary work, design work was done and we costed the hospital and we estimated that the hospital was going to cost about US$50 million but as everybody knows, since COVID and since the conflict in the Ukraine, prices have risen tremendously, particularly prices for construction and when the World Bank was in St Vincent and the Grenadines earlier this year, about a month and a half ago, the latest costings of the hospital project were in excess of $82 million,” the finance minister said . “So we were in a situation where we had 50 million to build a hospital that cost $82 million,” Gonsalves said just days after returning from attending meetings with the World Bank and the IMF and the International Monetary Fund.
He added that the main thrust of the World Bank meetings was to further co-operation on the hospital project and to deal with other smaller projects in the pipeline.
And through negotiations with the financial institution, the finance minister was able to convince the Bank to increase their initial $50 million allocation “to a number approaching $68 million”.
“I want to express tremendous gratitude to the World Bank for making these additional allocations and for indicating the flexibility that they did and the understanding that they did about the challenges that have come up because of conflict and Covid,” Gonsalves said.
He also said the government has already identified additional sources beyond Work Bank funds to source the remaining sum of money for the construction of the Acute Referral Hospital.
Gonsalves said the World Bank intends to take its proposal to the Board in July, and a final approval is expected sometime in August.
Once the approval has been given, the finance minister said the government will be able to begin the procurement of services.
“So it will take a few months to tender the project, for people to bid, for us to select a contractor and the rest of it so we are fairly optimistic, we are confident that very very early in 2023, January 2023, we will begin construction of the Acute Referral Hospital in Arnos Vale…” he said.
Gonsalves also mentioned “a number of consultancies” currently taking place in relation to how the health sector will be managed, once the new hospital is complete.
Issues to be addressed include, “how we’ll manage the transition of services from the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to the new hospital; how we will manage staffing and pricing of services; how much money we will save from what we ordinarily do, which is send people overseas for certain type of care, that they will now be able to receive locally at the new hospital in St Vincent and the Grenadines”.
He said the World Bank intends to visit SVG in the coming weeks with the focus of this latest visit being on fine-tuning the management of the new hospital.