May 09, 2013 News Comments Off on CARICOM annex gets new owner after $850M sale
Having secured the building for rental following its completion in 2008, leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) may soon be answering to a new landlord as the commonly known ‘CARICOM Annex, formerly the Rajana Building, has been sold for some $850M.
Sources told Kaieteur News that the sale was made some time last week. It is unsure the intention of the new owner who could easily use the building otherwise or retain its current tenants. Stakeholders are however, concerned over the risk associated with the accommodation which was seen from the inception as a waste of taxpayers’ money. Some $70M annually is alleged to be the rental cost.
Since the building was sold Kaieteur News was told, removal of CARICOM staffers or a hike in the rental price has to be contemplated. Alliance for Change General Secretary David Patterson told Kaieteur News yesterday that he still holds the view that the rental of the annex is a waste of taxpayers’ money and when asked he agreed that a price hike and eviction is food for thought.
The Rajana building was rented to accommodate the numerous staffers who make up the CARICOM team. The CARICOM headquarters was commissioned here in Guyana in 2005, but by 2008 further lodging grounds had to be sought for local and foreign workers.
Former president, the late Forbes Burnham was able to persuade Caribbean heads to have the head office in Guyana, despite claims that Guyana was not a Caribbean island.
The Secretariat was however too small to accommodate the total of workers and a section of the CARICOM staff had to remain in Georgetown; occupying for instance the Bank of Guyana Building along with others to aid with space congestion.
The five-storey structure located opposite the CARICOM headquarters at Turkeyen; is said to be sitting on about half acre of land. At the time of its rental, head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon said that CARICOM would be paying the rental fee since in keeping with Guyana’s undertaking to provide accommodations; housing for the secretariat was provided, but CARICOM would thus face the additional cost and increases.
Dr. Luncheon said a minimum contribution is made annually by member states for the continuance of CARICOM, but a request for an increase in national subscriptions by associated states was further made.
Much debate arose over the building’s rental, as many saw the move by the small island heads as financial suicide. The debates were especially fuelled with talks of the CARICOM secretariat being relatively new, while another building was already needed.
Patterson had stated that the move to rent the building reflected poor planning on the part of the Administration based on the time span that the additional space was required. When asked he said he believes Guyana is bearing the rental tab since as part of an agreement to keep the CARICOM head office here in Guyana, the nation would have to provide housing for staffers whether at the head office or other locations.
“Just like the Marriott hotel they rushing everything without giving it proper thought,” he opined.
Patterson further noted that renting another building four years after the secretariat was constructed showed that not enough consultation was made between the government, the designers and the occupants, while there was no forward thought for future demands.
In earlier reports, Communications advisor to the Secretary-General, Leonard Robertson, had highlighted that staffers in a number of departments such as the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS and the Legal Drafting Facility were being moved from Georgetown to the new building.
He had mentioned that CARICOM would be paying the rental fee before stating that the assimilation of the Cariforum Secretariat into the Caricom Secretariat, the expansion of the secretariat staff to meet the obligations of 9th European Development Fund and the implementation of the CSME [Caricom Single Market and Economy], has [seen] an increase in staff which necessitated more office space.
The CARICOM Secretariat was said to have been constructed with some $6B which the Japanese Government had aided with. An additional $159M was also spent to reallocate air-conditioning units and to add more office. The building was formerly owned by developer Cecil Rajana.
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