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Gov't to restructure Port Security Corps

Published:Wednesday | July 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Transport and Works Minister Dr Omar Davies says the Government is moving to restructure the cash-strapped Port Security Corps that has racked up debts amounting to $25 million in rental costs owed to the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

Deputy general manager of the UDC Donald Hamilton told Parliament's Public Adminis-tration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) yesterday that the Ports Security Corps owes the corporation a total of $25 million, with $21 million of that amount outstanding for more than 90 days.

Davies told The Gleaner yesterday that attempts are being made to resolve the matter but noted that there are more fundamental issues facing the Port Security Corps which are currently being examined.

"Unlike any other security company, these are permanent employees with all the normal benefits and hence, their costs are significantly higher than a private security firm, and we have to look at how to restructure them," Davies argued.

"You can't compare their costs structure with one of the private firms - solving the rental problem is not enough," Davies stressed.

Hamilton had reported that the UDC had taken steps to evict the Ports Security Corps from premises it

rented from the Corporation. The Ports Security Corps has resisted attempts by the UDC to evict it.

"They occupy the premises. We have tried eviction notice; we have had stays of execution (yet) they still occupy the space but we have a double whammy on this one because we have entities who want the space. So they are in the space, they are not paying, and we can earn from it," Hamilton told members of the PAAC.

$70 million rental costs

Meanwhile, Hamilton revealed that the Ministry of Health, which occupied the UDC's Oceana building in downtown Kingston, has left the property owing the corporation more than $70 million in rental costs.

"We are in consultation through the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance to have this matter resolved as to how we

are going to deal with it," Hamilton said.

The UDC is owed a total of $221 million from various government entities, including Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) .

Hamilton said the UDC is negotiating with TAJ to offset some of the rental against property taxes owed to the tax department.