Sir John E. St. Luce Finance and Convention Centre officially opened
The controversial building constructed to house the headquarters of Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) was declared open yesterday afternoon.
It comes eight years after ground broke for the construction of the modern facility by former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
The project was blighted by major delays over several years, cost overruns in the millions of dollars and a public spat between the current administration and former Project Manager Wendell Marshall over his competency and integrity.
Now with construction complete, the building will no longer serve as the headquarters for ADOMS. It will be known as the Sir John E. St. Luce Finance and Convention Centre in honour of the retired Antigua Labour Party MP, who during his illustrious political career served as minister of finance.
Offering remarks during the ceremony, Works Minister and Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Lennox Weston, detailed the illustrious career and accomplishments of Sir John and remarked that occasions such as the naming of the building for him, are necessary reminders to those to come of the contributions of their predecessors.
“A country which doesn’t acknowledge its heroes, and those who provide exemplary, high quality service and contribution to its citizens, will leave no footprint for the next generation to follow.
“That is why today we think it’s very important for us to honour Sir John E. St. Luce, who by any measure is a faithful national who served his country exceptionally well, and contributed significantly to set it on a path of modern development,” said Weston.
He continued, “John St. Luce has left a legacy of service which all of us can emulate. He worked tirelessly in the vineyard of his country’s social and economic development.
“We stand today as a people, as a nation to recognise his contribution, and to indicate our gratitude for his service.
“By naming this building the John E. St. Luce Finance and Conference Center, we have created a physical symbol for this generation and the next to follow in the footsteps he has left imprinted on this land.”
Due to poor health, Sir John was not in attendance at yesterday’s ceremony, however his daughter, Abena St. Luce attended on his behalf.
Ms. St. Luce said she was overwhelmed by the many expressions of gratitude for her father’s contribution to his beloved Antigua and Barbuda. She also shared that her father was very humbled, grateful and very pleasantly surprised when he received the news that the former ADOMS building would be renamed in his honour.
Ms. St. Luce added that the timing of the surprise could not have been better as it “elevated his spirits” as the effects of the pandemic, along with mobility issues and failing health due to his age, had all taken their toll on the former finance minister.
In a message of hope delivered by his daughter, Sir John, 81, said: “We often say God loves Antigua and Barbuda, and it is true; God loves Antigua and Barbuda.
“This pandemic, the challenges it has brought, though it feels never ending, though it causes moments of division, history has shown us all although we are small we are mighty.
“We are the sons and daughters of survivors. We are one people, and as one people we will rise through the storm. We will come out on the other side and we will continue to flourish.”
Sir John attended the University of London where he majored in economics and social sciences.
Upon his return home, in 1971, he was appointed to the Senate. He subsequently served as an elected member of parliament in the governments formed by Sir Vere Bird Sr. and Sir Lester Bird from 1976 until his retirement in 2004.
His many portfolios as a member of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda during this time includedMinister of Agriculture, Home Affairs, Health, Public Works, Public Utilities and Communications and Finance.