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Gov’t shells out $500,000 a month for empty building

Published:Friday | March 8, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

The Government has paid $3 million in lease over half a year for an empty building. The Ardenne Road, St Andrew, building, which was leased by the Universal Service Fund (USF), is said to be undergoing renovations.

The revelation was made by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams at Tuesday’s sitting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament.

Pressed by committee member Julian Robinson to provide answers on the issue, Williams explained that the property was leased with plans to house equipment, among other functions.

“Yes, I’m advised of a location on Ardenne Road to house server equipment, to ease the space problem, and that the budget for the lease is $500,000 monthly.

She added, under further questioning from Robinson, that the lease was undertaken six months ago.

Williams, who took over the portfolio on February 14, said that the building was yet to be occupied even while the USF has been making payments over the six-month period, which drew looks of consternation from Robinson and others on the opposition benches.

“You mean to tell me that taxpayers’ money is being spent on a building that is yet to be occupied?” questioned Robinson.

“Renovation work will be completed at the end of this month, I am told,” Williams replied.

Pressed further for clarification, she told the committee that the works would be completed by the end of March.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com