With the occupants of over 100 of its buildings not paying rent, the Region Four administration will be approaching the Attorney General’s Chambers for advice on retrieving what is owed to it.
According to the 2016 Auditor General’s (AG) report, there are 300 buildings controlled by the Region Four administration, of which 132 of them are occupied by private owners, including Demerara Distillers Limited and TOPCO.
The report notes that of the 132 buildings, only 26 are being paid for by the occupants. It relates that no records were presented to show whether those not paying were actually entitled to rent-free quarters.
Furthermore, Region Four Regional Executive Officer (REO) Pauline Lucas, during an appearance before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday, related that 20 of the 300 buildings are occupied by regional staff, all of whom have been transferred from other regions. It was said that the region’s maintenance budget only covers those 20 buildings.
As for the non-compliant occupants, Lucas related that while some of those who have been delinquent were written to, the region has received no response.
Lucas related that last year the region asked that the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) assist it in this regard. Asked by PAC member Nigel Dharamlall why the region had approached SARA before the Attorney General, who has legal standing on the matter, Lucas related that she had been approached first by the entity, which had requested a list of all the buildings controlled by the region. As a connection was now established, Lucas said she took the opportunity to seek assistance.
Lucas stated that the region has had discussions with SARA representatives on three occasions since then but related that it has not received any reports although more than a year has elapsed.
Asked by Dharamlall the nature of the assistance requested by the region, Lucas said that they asked for help identifying the buildings and for getting the occupants out so the buildings could be returned to the region. Lucas, however, noted that the AG has advised that the Attorney General be approached on the matter.
PAC Chairman Irfaan Ali also recommended that the Financial Secretary Hector Butts and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure take leading roles in the matter.