Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley said the Elmore Stoutt High School rehabilitation project is going to proceed as planned so that it can be completed in time for the new school year.
The Premier had made an earlier acknowledgement about stopping some projects and noted recommendations made in the Commission of Inquiry
) report for some projects to be audited for good governance to be demonstrated.
“It’s my intention for that project to continue. Of course, you know, we’re speaking about good governance but for me, it’s not good governance to have your children in an inadequate condition,” Dr Wheatley said at a recent press briefing.
The report called for audits to all major projects valued above $100,000 executed under the previous Andrew Fahie
-led Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government over the past three years. But according to the Premier, schools, hospitals and other institutions must to continue to function in the meanwhile.
“We can’t let all of these things basically fall by the wayside because we’re implementing the recommendations of the report. I don’t think that’s what the Governor or the United Kingdom or Minister [Amanda] Milling would want us to do,” the Premier stated.
After initial estimates were done and bids were submitted, the project costs grew to more than $11 million, according to former Premier Fahie
. This meant that additional funding needed to be sourced despite an earlier promise for the project to be completed by September 2021 in time for the start of the new school year.
Controversy arose after the now Premier, Dr Wheatley previously announced that an anonymous bidder contributed some $4 million towards the project.
But these funds were previously donated, and not counted towards the $4.2M deficit that Fahie
had requested of business owners as much needed donations to the school’s redevelopment project.
Meanwhile, Premier Wheatley also assured that his government will continue to execute other similar important project once funding is available for them.
“So, we going to continue with the development of the high school. We’re ensuring that we have all the funds necessary right now in terms of looking at the projects that can continue and some of the projects which will have to stopped to ensure that essential national projects like the Elmore Stoutt project will be able to continue,” he said.