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Sale of Outameni is right thing to do says Davis

Published:Friday | August 28, 2015 | 2:34 PM
Dr Carlton Davis

Chairman of the National Housing Trust (NHT) Dr Carlton Davis has said that offering the Outameni property in Trelawny for sale is "the appropriate thing to do at this time".

The NHT in 2013 purchased the Orange Grove property from Capital and Credit Merchant Bank for $180 million.

Under pressure over the purchase, which many saw as a sort of bail-out, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said in Parliament that the full expenditure for the purchase of the building, including a 300-year-old great house and land, chattels, and associated costs in relation to the property, was $208.2 million.

Simpson Miller has since decided against reappointing Easton Douglas as chairman of the board following the controversial purchase, opting instead for Davis, a former Cabinet secretary.

Shortly after assuming office, Davis told a parliamentary committee that he would not have made the decision to purchase the property.

outside core competence

"It is not the approach I would have taken in dealing with this matter, and that, in the circumstance, it is not an area within the NHT's core competence. My own preferred orientation is to sell or lease the property as soon as possible," Davis told members of the Public Accounts Committee in June.

The NHT has since given local and international investors until September 25 to submit bids for the purchase of the Outameni property. The Trust said it would start accepting bids for the nine-acre property on September 14. It said bids submitted after the September 25 deadline would be disqualified.

In an emailed response to The Gleaner, Davis said, "work is proceeding on alternatives in the event a suitable sale offer is not received," saying, too, that "we do not contemplate disposing of the property via a 'fire sale'."

He also said that he had asked the management to "do everything possible to keep the costs down; however, we must ensure that we minimise any deterioration of the buildings and infrastructure".