Member of Parliament for South St. George, Andy Williams who heads the newly created Ministry of Mobilisation, Implementation and Transformation (MIT) has identified the Moliniere Road reconstruction as the number one priority project for the newly elected National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY, Minister Williams said that he is already very much “on top” of the Moliniere project while putting together a list of all other critical projects to be looked at by the new administration of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.
He said the project, which was awarded to a construction firm by the former New National Party (NNP), has been affected by some bottlenecks that he has just cleared up, especially with landowners in the area.
“…We had to get permission from them to go-ahead so that we can start the project and the process,” he said.
“We just cleared up everything this week and by next week or week after we’re looking to start the project in Moliniere which would take about 10 months to complete.”
Minister Williams also mentioned the Western Main Road project, which was earmarked to receive significant funding from the British government as another critical one that has the attention of MIT.
This project, he said, is linked to the Moliniere project because “we have to complete the Moliniere project as soon as possible before we can go ahead and proceed with the Western Main Road project.”
“So the Western Main Road is another one that we see as very important and we have a deadline to do it by. So MIT is doing all in its power to see how we can finish the Western Main Road in time.”
According to Minister Williams, MIT has an important role to play under the new Congress administration as all public sector projects have to come through his ministry.
“So my ministry is the hub for all projects,” he added.
The senior government minister indicated that one of the first things that he had to do after taking up office was to “get a hold of all projects – be it in Infrastructure, Health, Sports and Culture – just name it.”
“So the biggest challenge for me is getting all the projects together and after that we determine now which project is priority and then when we get the priority projects my ministry then in terms of what it does is to clear bottlenecks by mobilising resources, clearing the bottlenecks and making sure that the projects are implemented timely,” he said.
He stressed that the main role of MIT in the scheme of things is to make sure that projects in any government ministry are implemented in time.
Minister Williams identified a major problem that he faces in terms of getting his work done as “the bureaucracy in government.”
He said that in order to get things done one has to go through a lot of different processes and since taking office the ministry has had to cut through a lot of the bureaucracy that exists within the public service.
“We pride ourselves in being nimble – meaning we can get things done quickly and that is the catalyst as to how fast the government can move,” he quipped.
“So the biggest challenge is putting the ministry together, secondly, getting a hold of all projects and thirdly to tackle all the bottlenecks to ensure that the projects are implemented on time,” he said.
Minister Williams disclosed that since taking up office following the change of government on June 23, he has been able to identify all the projects to be tackled and the next step is to get the status of all the projects.
“Right now, we are in the process of getting the status of all the projects,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
The minister was very cautious in answering a question concerning allegations that the slow pace of implementation of projects under the former NNP regime resulted in Grenada losing some funding from donor countries and organisations.
He said: “Well, that is what we are doing now – in the case where we see that happening, MIT is ensuring that we put enough resources so that won’t happen.
We do not want what happened in the past to happen again and that’s why the Prime Minister in his vision saw it fit to put a MIT Department to ensure that we do not lose projects because if you lose projects we would lose grant funding and so on – that is just free money that could help develop Grenada.”
“So MIT will ensure that we do not fall into that – where we lose projects. Also, MIT’s aim is to improve efficiency so that in terms of Contractors not doing a good job, not doing their project on time, giving you quality – we would rate them in terms of performance so we know in going forward when we give someone a job, we know their performance is impeccable and that will even help us reach our goal even faster and easier.”
Minister Williams acknowledged that under the previous Keith Mitchell-led regime, the implementation rate of projects was very “slow”.
“My aim now is to ensure that that is addressed…,” he said.
Minister Williams was also asked to comment on reports that Grenada’s slow implementation of the River Road project resulted in loss of major funding from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which forced the NNP administration to utilise proceeds from the sale of the passport-selling scheme known as Citizenship by Investment (CBI) to undertake the project.
“It is kind of too early for me to speak holistically about it. If anything has been lost our aim is not to lose anything going forward,” he said.