The Ju-C building at the entrance of Kingstown is to be sold by the state owned company National Properties Ltd to the National Insurance Services (NIS) as payment for part of a debt owed.
This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves in answer to a question posed by the Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday in Parliament on April 5.
The Government was asked to say how the Ju-C building has been used since it was purchased “with much fanfare”, “for over five million dollars.” Friday also asked why, since the Government rents office space in Kingstown, why the Ju-C building was not being used for government offices or other government uses.
The question also asked what the future use of the building would be, “to justify the use of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to purchase it.”
Firstly, the Prime Minister had some clarifications on the question, intoning, “I made the statement that the Government wanted to have, to own this building, because I did not want, the Government did not want, to see a building at the entrance of the city, which doesn’t merit the entrance of the city. There is no fanfare.”
He also stated that the Government had bought the building for $6.325 million.
The Prime Minister disclosed that the building has been used for most of the time since its purchase, with LIME, Uptown International and the YES campaign being among its occupants over the years.
He said at one time, there had been plans for an overseas commercial bank to lease the building.
“A design had in fact been done for the Ju-C building, and one commercial bank, overseas commercial bank, was interested in partnering with us,” he stated, continuing, “It was going to be a long lease, certainly for one floor, possibly for two floors.”
However, in the end, he said that due to the global economic downturn, the agreement did not go through.
Gonsalves said the property is now being purchased from National Properties Ltd by the NIS for $8.4 million. This money will be paid by partial debt relief for National Properties Ltd, as they owe the NIS. The Prime Minister indicated that the National Properties has “borrowed the monies in relation to properties where they were selling on an ongoing basis to provide resources for the Argyle International Airport (AIA) as part of the creative funding.”
Finally, Gonsalves indicated that, “National Insurance Services intends to develop the property, and the Cabinet has given the blessing in this regard.”
He further disclosed that the Government hopes to develop the BAICO plot of land to the rear of the Inland Revenue Department. “In fact, the Government will be able to go in to the bank and essentially borrow the money, develop it and save on the rental in different places.”