Aug 04, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – When it comes to the rental of buildings, consecutive governments continue to pump billions of taxpayers’ dollars often in the hands of private citizens in an attempt to provide suitable occupancy to State and other related entities.
But Member of Parliament of A Partnership For National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Ganesh Mahipaul said that the issue over rental of buildings under the various administrations will continue unless there is a shift in the mentality of the political leadership from having to rent these buildings to owning them.
He noted that the issue has resulted in wastage of the much needed tax dollars and raised concerns over the management of the consolidated fund. Mahipaul’s comments come after Kaieteur News highlighted at least two scenarios in which the State has expended an exorbitant amount of monies on the rental of buildings. The most recent case was in relation to the rental of a building to house the UN offices by the previous APNU+AFC coalition administration.
The building located at Duke Street Kingston was rented under a 10 year contract by the coalition at a whopping $188 million annually. The agreement therefore ties the Guyanese tax payers to funding a private citizen for the next decade. And while former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson had defended the deal as necessary to satisfy the specifications requirements of the UN offices, other politicians have expressed varying views on the matter.
Current Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill has said that the rental could have been made at cost that is more suitable for the State. He suggested too using the money to host the UN on a plot of land that is owned by the State would have been a better investment.
Meanwhile, in an invited comment to Kaieteur News, Mahipaul expressed the view that rental of buildings by the various governments will continue to be an issue unless there is a change in the policy in the way the State conducts business. “The Government can put an end to this problem by changing the way it does business. I think it is time that the government shifts the mentality from renting to owning….Moving from the tenant mentality to the landlord which will greatly assist in the State in cutting back on the amounts of monies that is spent annually on rent.”
Mahipaul told Kaieteur News that an examination of the budget estimates for the last three years, 2020, 2021 and 2022 is testament of the need for government to change course in terms of acquisition of property to conduct business. “It is troubling governments continue to rent buildings when there are vast lands available for them to construct their own buildings. Let the State own the buildings and let the government construct and rent the building and bring in monies to the consolidated fund rather than bleed it annually for the sake of a few [private] persons,” he said.
Kaieteur News had reported that at least $400M is being spent annually for the rental and maintenance of buildings that house the operations of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). An examination of GRA’s Annual Reports and Statements of Accounts, which was laid in the National Assembly from December 2010 to December 2014, revealed that each year, the tax agency spent between $80 million to approximately $400M monthly. A source close to the tax agency had explained that GRA’s rental and maintenance are determined by the number of buildings or facilities it rents to house its operations.
Kaieteur News understands that in addition to renting the Camp Street facility to accommodate its main office, GRA rents at least four other facilities to house its operations, these include parking spaces and places for storage. The source told Kaieteur News not only is the revenue authority’s rental and maintenance bill costing the State, but renting facilities to house GRA’s Main office has been relocated on several occasions.
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