GECOM officials’blocked out’
…as row erupts over millions owed in rent
A nasty row erupted yesterday over the non-payment of rent by the Guyana Elections Commission for the property it occupies on High Street, Georgetown.
The Commission reportedly owes millions of dollars to K.P Thomas and Sons Development Incorporated in rent for the building it occupies a few yards away from its 41 High Street head office.
Yesterday, GECOM staff, including its Chief Executive Officer, Gocool Boodoo, turned up for work but were confronted by six concrete slabs across the entrance.
Kenrick Thomas, of K.P Thomas and Sons Development Incorporated, said that the company is owed “a substantial amount” of money by the Commission and that he was taking the action to secure the building in keeping with the terms of the licensing agreement for the rental of building.
However, after a meeting he held with Boodoo and other officials of the Commission, Thomas said certain undertakings were made by the Commission. There is an agreement that all outstanding amounts would be settled by next Friday.
Upon this agreement, Thomas was about to remove the concrete encumbrance when Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, arrived on scene and ordered workers employed by his Ministry to remove the concrete slabs.
Benn said that the building was a “government occupied facility” and he was “removing the obstruction to its use”.
The Minister said he was not concerned about the matter of outstanding rental by the Commission.
Initially, the Police were called in, but the owners produced a copy of the agreement and showed them that the building was private property which they had rented. As such, the Police backed off.
The Commission began renting the premises when the Secretariat building housing the National Registration Centre and other offices was destroyed by fire in September 2006.
Kaieteur News understands that the building was rented to the Commission as a fully-operational commercial building and included air-conditioning, generator, and water network.
The terms of the license stipulated that the building would be rented on a one-year renewable contract.
A source inside the company pointed out that in the past GECOM had been late with rent but these matters were ironed out.
However, this time around GECOM is claiming that the payment is held up at the Ministry of Finance.
Company officials did try to contact the Ministry but were told that the matter has to be dealt with by the Commission.
Thomas said that he is waiting to see if the outstanding dues will be settled before his company makes any other decision.