Speaking on his party’s NDP radio programme last evening, Penn argued that the government had been revisiting projects that were developed under the previous government in order to put their own stamp on it.
“The reality is, based on the information that I have surrounding the particular West End ferry terminal project, the money is not there. There is $11 million budgeted in the old plans that were rejected because it was too expensive within the range of $25 million,” Penn stated.
According to the Opposition Leader, a developer under the previous National Democratic Party (NDP) government offered in-kind donations to have all drawings for the West End ferry terminal project done.
“They would pay for all the financial requirements to get the designs done, to get the drawings to the point where they were approved and they would say to the people of the Virgin Islands and to the government of the Virgin Islands, ‘here are the designs based on what you want for the West End ferry terminal and we will make sure we pay the cost for it,’” Penn explained.
But according to Penn, this offer was never accepted for unexplained reasons.
Instead, he said the current Virgin Islands Party government tendered the project even though there were plans in place previously for the facility to be developed, which pegged the cost of the project at $25 million.
Penn said a similar situation occurred with plans for the Elmore Stoutt High School rebuild project, where plans were already in place but were rejected by the current government.
The Opposition Leader argued that the territory’s leaders must set national priorities and not continue to change its priorities whenever a government changes.
“It seems to be a habit of this government in terms of they want to put something to say that it is their stamp, but it’s the people’s money,” Penn argued.
He said the government rejected the designs for the high school project because it contained too much glass, yet they presented what they termed a futuristic project for the WE ferry terminal with glass all around it.
Penn further expressed that the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) has already pumped more than $10 million into the West End Ferry Terminal project and questioned how the development was going to get done.
“It is about optics,” Penn said, “We are in an election cycle and we are creating these things for optics. But we have to be real with the people because at the end of the day, that is the public’s funds that we’re playing with.”