Several issues, including funding, are responsible for the delay in the move of government offices to the Government Campus Plaza on Richmond Street in Port of Spain, Minister of Finance Larry Howai said yesterday.
Referring to media questions specifically on the Immigration Department relocation and why it was taking this long, Howai said: “That actually started some time ago, then we had to put the funding in place, then they had to do all the briefs all over again.
“They had to go back to the buildings to determine what had to be done because some things may have deteriorated there were some issues with...I think, the sewer system and so on; that, I think, had to be included as part of the scope of work.”
Speaking at the Employers Consultative Association’s (ECA) pre-budget meeting at Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Port of Spain, Howai said Government has not actually done any maintenance work on the buildings at the Government Campus, where there would have been “an interest cost associated”, but he was not sure of how much.
And addressing foreign exchange issues, with a recent shortage of funds, Howai said: “We have intervened with the Central Bank, we have had some discussions and funds have been put in, I think they have put in $100 million a few days ago, so I think that should address the issue.”
He added that he has a session coming up soon with the Supermarkets Association, with respect to the national budget consultation, and so would address their issues regarding the foreign exchange problem.
“There are companies which have been good at not just using foreign exchange, but actually generating it, like KC Candy and SM Jaleel, and we want to see more people do that as we go forward,” said the Minister.
“Because most companies in Trinidad tend to be users of foreign exchange and not generators and we need to get to the point where these companies are actually generators of foreign exchange and therefore it requires a reconceptualisation of the business models that many of us have and use as we go forward into the future,” he added.