Saddled by $200M in annual rent for UN House, gov’t considers affordable housing
Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill on Tuesday signalled the government’s intention to construct an energy-efficient and cost-effective campus to house the United Nations (UN) agencies that have a presence in the country.
Currently, the five UN agencies here were moved to several small buildings in a compound on Duke Street, Georgetown by the previous government which Edghill said leaves much to be desired.
The minister was at the time responding to questions posed by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) David Patterson during the consideration of budget estimates in the Committee of Supply.
According to Edghill, flowing from an agreement between the APNU+AFC government and the landlord, the rental of the complex amounts to a total of US$235, 576 on a quarterly basis.
At an exchange rate of G$220 to US$1, it amounts to just over $200 million on an annual basis.
“When you look at the five buildings that these agencies occupied before and compare it to what is offered now, we are offering the people less and paying more,” Edghill said while pointing out that there was no adequate parking along the street that is home to the United States Embassy, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Duke Lodge among other corporate agencies like the Guyana Power and light.
Edghill made it clear that the current government was dissatisfied with the rental cost where some $1 billion was expended in the last five years and said it had become necessary to find a cost-saving alternative.
“Even if we want to break the contract and build a proper facility to host all the entities you have to pay the gentleman, they entered into the contract one year rent. That is the nature of the agreement,” the Public Works Minister disclosed.
But Patterson, former Public Infrastructure Minister, said it was the UN that elected the building and later got the blessing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We appreciate and welcome all UN agencies and we are working to ensure they are properly housed in an energy-efficient and cost-effective facility,” he assured.