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Gov't owes UDC $364m for rent

Published:Friday | October 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
Ransford Braham

When the health ministry moved its offices from the Oceana Building in downtown Kingston five years ago, it also left behind $175 million in unpaid rent owed to the state-owned Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

According to figures compiled by the UDC, the arrears for the health ministry account for more than half of the $364 million the Government owes its primary development agency in rental fees alone.

In total, the Government owes the UDC $570 million in rent and other trade receivables, the agency said in a report to the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament.

The UDC revealed, too, that it has total receivables of just over $1.3 billion.

Ransford Braham, chairman of the UDC, indicated yesterday that a large chunk of the debt preceded his tenure but said that he had already approached the Government to have the arrears settled.

The report by the UDC indicates that the Ministry of National Security owes $56 million in rental fees while the Port Security Corps and the Commissioner of Lands have arrears of $30 million and $29 million, respectively.

"I have been talking with the Government and the various ministries, particularly the Ministry of Finance, to come to some arrangements for these monies to be taken care of, either in cash or in kind [land or other assets], and those discussions are ongoing," Braham told The Gleaner.

He, however, insisted that the $1.3 billion in receivables has not jeopardised any of the projects being undertaken by the agency.

"When we have the projects, the Government provides the funding through the budget or through another agency, so I can't say that, specifically, we have had a project that was not able to go on because money is short," Braham explained.

"But we want the money. It does affect our day-to-day operations and, of course, our balance sheet. I can't deny that."