The government is confident that it will be able to start construction of the acute referral hospital at Arnos Vale by January 2023, now that the World Bank has increased funding for the proposed new medical facility.
This confidence was expressed by the Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves who was speaking at a press conference on April 28 on his return to the country after attending international financial meetings.
The World Bank was involved in the design of the hospital, which has been earmarked for the northern end of the disused ET Joshua airport tarmac.
The Bank’s involvement also covers carrying out the geological and environmental studies necessary to determine the needs of the hospital, including staff.
“All of this preliminary work, the design work has been done and we’ve costed the hospital and we estimated the hospital was going to be around $50 million, but as everyone knows, since COVID and since the conflict in Ukraine, prices have risen tremendously, especially construction prices and when the World Bank was in St. Vincent and the Grenadines earlier this year, about a month and a half ago, the latest project costs hospital costs exceeded $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 his back from meetings with the World Bank, the IMF and the International Monetary Fund.
He added that the main purpose of the World Bank meetings was to enhance cooperation on the hospital project and to deal with other smaller ongoing projects.
And thanks to negotiations with the financial institution, the Minister of Finance succeeded in convincing the Bank to increase its initial allocation of 50 million dollars “to a figure approaching 68 million dollars”.
“I would like to express immense gratitude to the World Bank for providing these additional allocations and for indicating the flexibility it has made and the understanding it has made of the challenges that have arisen because of the conflict and Covid “, said Gonsalves.
He also said the government had already identified additional sources beyond Work Bank funds to secure the remaining sum of money for the construction of the acute referral hospital.
Gonsalves said the World Bank intends to present its proposal to the board in July and final approval is expected in August.
Once approved, the finance minister said the government would be able to begin purchasing services.
“So it will take a few months to bid on the project, to get people to bid, for us to select a contractor and so on, so we’re pretty optimistic, we’re confident that very, very early in 2023, January 2023, we’re going to start the construction of the acute referral hospital in Arnos Vale…” he said.
Gonsalves also mentioned “a number of consultations” underway on how the health sector will be managed, once the new hospital is completed.
Issues to be addressed include, “how will we manage the transition of services from Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to the new hospital; how we will manage staffing and pricing for services; how much money we will save on what we usually do, which is to send people abroad for certain types of care, which they will now be able to receive locally in the new hospital in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines “.
He said the World Bank intended to visit SVG in the coming weeks, with the purpose of this final visit being to fine-tune the management of the new hospital.