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...$3m UDeCOTT house may be sold

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

The Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) is considering selling or leasing a $3 million Tobago property which was purchased by the State enterprise under the former People's National Movement (PNM) government.

Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, who visited Tobago yesterday, said that the house has been empty for years and a decision must be taken before it deteriorates.

"We are still trying to ascertain the reasons which led to the purchase of the luxury home in Tobago, we are discussing that matter, maybe UDeCOTT will put the house up for sale," said Moonilal.

"It is completely empty right now and we run the risk that it can run into disrepair and create a further drain on UDeCOTT's coffers," he added.

Asked whether he thinks UDeCOTT would be able to retrieve the money spent on the villa, Moonilal said: "It is unlikely we'll get back the figure, but we are also looking at leasing it to a State enterprise who may need accommodation in Tobago."

In May, at the People's Partnership's second anniversary rally, Moonilal disclosed that UDeCOTT had acquired property at Coral Seashells Villas, #113, Anthony Charles Crescent, Bon Accord, Tobago, to the tune of US$449,500 (TT$3 million).

On the heels of this, former UDeCOTT executive chairman Calder Hart released an email stating that the property was purchased for use as a residence by the manager of National Insurance Property Development Company Limited (Nipdec)/UDeCOTT operations office in Tobago.

"At no time did I, or any UDeCOTT executive under my supervision, use the home while I was chairman. It was not purchased as a vacation home. I question the highly politicised manner in which this information was provided to the public. The home is hardly a secret to people in both organisations and in fact, it was a senior development manager from Nipdec who was first appointed to the post and was required to relocate his family there," stated Hart.

In June, at a Parliament sitting, Moonilal queried the comments left in a guest book at the villa and went on to say that there was no Cabinet approval for the purchase of the property.

Moonilal told the Express yesterday that a number of Housing Development Corporation (HDC) houses were under repair in Tobago.

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