T & T retired state workers refuse to leave properties

(Trinidad Guardian) : Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald’s back to work with a bang—on the hunt for public officers who have overstayed their tenancy on state property assets.

And the team she’s mandated to go door-to-door to take stock of Government’s property asset base has already met with resistance from some occupiers at the Flagstaff Hill, Port-of-Spain development for instance.

“I have been told that some people (at Flagstaff) told our team that they’ll speak to them in court when those occupiers realised the team had come to ascertain their status,” McDonald said yesterday.

The survey of Government’s property assets started in June.

It’s now one of her priority projects in the ministry and was designated by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on his return from China in May.

McDonald spoke about it—and her resumption of duties—at a media briefing at her Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain ministry.

She said she’s very focused on the project designated by her boss in which she has to examine Government’s asset base, including the status of occupancies.

“An exercise like this hasn’t been done in some time, almost 15 to 20 years,” McDonald said.

Public officers—including senior ones like permanent secretaries or people transferred from other locations—are allowed housing on state property.

She said a lot of public officers have occupied Government property over more than a decade spanning many several administrations, “…UNC, COP, NAR, PNM…Some people have overstayed their residency, from government to government, waiting out governments and even passing on tenancy to their children,” she revealed.

“Normally, they have to remove from a property once they reach the public service retirement age of 60.

“But there is no mechanism in the ministry to flag when occupiers of state property reach that age.

McDonald said there is concern about the extended tenancies over the years since public officers do not pay the state any rent and some do not pay maintenance fees for residency at various developments.

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