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Front Pages 20 Oct, 2022 Follow News

Hon Joseph Hew MP

By Staff Writer

The opposition Progressives party has rejected claims by Premier Wayne Panton that while in office they misled the country over the progress of the ReGen waste-to-energy recycling project.

Updating Parliament recently on the state of the major infrastructural scheme being managed by the DART group, Premier Panton accused the Progressives of misleading the country on the state of the project.

“I also believe that the Opposition has not painted an accurate picture when it comes to the level of work that remained to be done after their administration signed that agreement, amid much fanfare and self-congratulation, less than three weeks before the General Election in 2021,” he said.

According to Mr Panton, leader of the PACT coalition government, “Contrary to what the Opposition members have suggested, we were not handed a fully negotiated contract to simply carry forward and execute.”

But that assertion has been firmly rejected by the Progressives who had also made the so-called Mount Trashmore waste management and recycling project a key platform issue in last year’s election campaign.

 In a detailed counterattack, deputy leader of the Progressives, Joey Hew, chided the PACT government for failing to move the important project forward.

“After months of silence, from the Premier, I welcome the definitive commitment made in the statement to delivering this vital project. Regrettably, rather than seeking to explain his own delays and the risks they have caused, the Premier sought to deflect attention by manufacturing claims about the Progressives’ actions in government and statements we have made in opposition.”

Saying that it’s “vital that the country understands and supports Project ReGen,” Mr Hew added however that, “the Premier’s attempts to smear both the Progressives and the project are regrettable and must not go uncorrected.”

In a comprehensive analysis and dissection of the claims by the Premier, the Progressives deputy leader concluded that the accusations that the previous government had misled the country were “a level of garbage higher than ‘Mount Trashmore’ itself”

The Progressives’ deputy leader explained: “We have never said there was a ‘fully negotiated contract’ that PACT could get on and execute as the Premier claims. Presumably, the Premier has forgotten that a member of his Government, MP Dwayne Seymour, was Minister responsible for the Project at the time of the signing and he could have checked with him.”

According to Mr Hew, “From the outset, we have been clear that more work was needed to complete the contracting process. That can clearly be seen in the announcement of the signing of the project agreement in March 2021...We understood that it would take six months of hard negotiating to get the project over the line and we had built that into the project timetable.”

He also recalled: “As the Leader of the Opposition himself said at the time of the Strategic Policy Statement, we had done the ‘heavy lifting’ with years of contract negotiation, but more was needed to get to close.”

Mr Hew also reminded that, “At that point, the Premier told the country himself that his government was not working on ReGen because it was complex and his government had other more, urgent priorities. Again, at the time of the budget, after the first date for financial close had been missed by the Premier, we continued to tell PACT that they needed to get on with the work…But sadly, it appears the Premier and PACT did just leave it to one side.”

The opposition Progressives say they are now worried that the delays could now have serious financial implications for the project which could end up costing the government more.

“Suppliers may now see ReGen as a risky project because of the delay and charge a risk premium for their continued commitment. Finally, they know that available landfill is all but exhausted because of the Premier’s delays and suppliers may seek to charge a premium price because they know government now has no alternatives left.”

Mr Hew has called on Premier Panton “to be straight with the country and be clear about the extra costs his administration has incurred for the project.”

The Progressives Deputy leader has urged the Premier to “stop with the excuses and get on with the job to ensure the new deadline is met and there are no more delays and risks caused.”

He also reinforced the Progressives’ support for the ReGen project and calling for regular updates from the government, he warned that “we will continue to be watchful for any further unnecessary delays.”

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