Investigations into a multimillion-dollar payout made by former justice minister Herbert Volney has reached the desk of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
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Tewarie on rental for Science Ministry: $41m spent in 9 years for St James building
From 2002 to 2011 the Ministry of Science and Tertiary Education spent some $41 million on rent for a building at the corner of Agra and Patna Streets, St James. The National Training Agency shelled out close to $11 million in rent from 1999 to 2013, Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie said in the Senate yesterday. The issue of relocating government ministries to central Trinidad was raised by Opposition Senator Camille Robinson-Regis.
Tewarie said not only would relocating the Ministries of Tertiary Education, Community Development and Food Production save millions yearly but land space was readily available. He said the land was centrally located and was a major growth centre for population and Cabinet had already approved the allocation of lands for an integrated administrative complex for the Tertiary Education Ministry and some of its portfolio agencies.
Asked the cost a square foot of construction Tewarie said he did not know and was also unaware who was the contractor dealing with the Tertiary Education Ministry. He said the Ministry of Community Development was expected to save an estimated $1.2 million on rent a year if it had its own building. He added: “The Ministry of Food Production is expected to save an estimated $3 million through relocation of a building designed to meet their needs.
“The Government firmly believes the benefits to be derived from the decentralisation of these ministries, combined with the convenience of having various departments in one location, will far outweigh any adverse effects of relocation.” He said no final decision had been taken on a request for ten acres of land for offices and related facilities for the Community Development Ministry near the Divali Nagar site.
In June 2011, Tewarie said, Government agreed to the reservation of a parcel of state land at Factory Road, Chaguanas, for the construction of an office complex for the Food Production Ministry which is expected to house various units in one location. The ministry has another option at Farm Road, Curepe, for the construction of the complex. Tewarie said no final decision has been taken on the location.
Tewarie said the Accreditation Council, which falls under the Tertiary Education Ministry, had spent approximately $10 million from 2005 to 2013. The Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP), which also falls under that ministry, spent $25 million in rent from 1991 to 2013. Tewarie also gave a breakdown of annual rents for the various divisions of the Ministry of Community Development:
• Prime Minister’s Best Village/Carifesta Secretariat at Stanmore Avenue, Port-of-Spain: $737,438.
• Community Development Fund, Capital Plaza, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain: $386,400.