Government’s announcement of a 17th attempt to revitalize the nation’s capital yesterday has received mixed reactions.
Former Minister of Finance Karen Nunez-Tesheira told Guardian Media that now is not the time for Government to be focusing on the project.
“To whose benefit is it? I’m sorry but given COVID and the challenges of people losing their jobs, UTT closing down campuses, scholarships being cut and all this going on,” she said.
“I don’t hold out the hope that it would see the light of day because there’s too many things that have to be addressed in a serious way before you can be getting people back into the city.”
Karen Nunez-Tesheira said her scepticism about how fruitful this attempt would be was “based on this government’s track record when things were much better and we were not dealing with a COVID-19 situation”.
“We were told so many promises and none (was) delivered,” she said.
In an admission that Government would not be able to fund the entire project, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated yesterday that public-private partnerships would play a key role.
However, Nunez-Tesheira said, “Including the Patriotic deal, any deal with Government or public-private partnership must be subject to the oversight of the office of the (Procurement) Regulator. There are two key provisions yet to be proclaimed.”
Chief Executive Officer of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Nirad Tewarie also held a similar view about the proposed public-private partnerships.
“We note that all of the identified projects involve public assets and therefore speak, again, to the need for full implementation of the procurement legislation and associated regulations. I think the private sector will be interested once the plans are clear and the process transparent.”
But that’s where the similarities diverged between the two. Tewarie said they welcomed “any set of initiatives to revitalise part of the country, but our nation’s capital in particular.”
“We are therefore encouraged to see this being elevated to a major priority.
“We welcome the intention to work with the private sector on this and the attempts to seek ideas from various quarters. We look forward to the systematic implementation of plans in a transparent and consistent manner to make our capital attractive and exciting for all.”