Property Matters – State Offices – part 2

Noel Garcia, former MD of HDC. Photo courtesy Trinidad Guardian
Noel Garcia, UDeCOTT chairman. Photo courtesy Trinidad Guardian

On 5 January 2016 the Business page of the Trinidad Express newspaper carried an article titled ‘Millions to be saved from rent‘ in which the UDeCOTT Chairman, Noel Garcia, advised on the progress in completing the State-owned offices in Port of Spain. That was also the topic of last week’s Property Matters column, so this week I will be trying to reconcile the two sets of information and make some further points.

The program for completion of these offices, as announced on 18 July 2014 by then Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Dr Roodal Moonilal, was to have had them all occupied by the end of 2015, with some substantial completions due at a far earlier date. Garcia stated that the last of these buildings would be ready for occupation in June and also that ‘all works with respect to the project were on schedule‘. Obviously there was significant slippage in the projected completion of this huge series of offices, originally described by Moonilal as ‘an unprecedented feat in the Caribbean‘.


(sq.  ft.)
Scheduled Completions
Dr Roodal Moonilal (2014)
Noel Garcia (2016)
 Customs & Excise HQ, Richmond St. 189,000 October 18th 2014 April 2015
 Board of Inland Revenue, Richmond St. 374,000 August 28th 2015 June 2016
 Ministry of Legal Affairs, Richmond St. 332,000 August 31st 2015 February 2016
 Immigration Division, Richmond St (Formerly Ministry of Social Development) 160,000 March 20th 2015 Completed
 Ministry of Education, St Vincent St. 274,000 No date given March 2016

Continue reading “Property Matters – State Offices – part 2”

Property Matters – State Offices

The PM’s address to the nation on the evening of 29 December 2015 was an official announcement as to the need for shared sacrifice and reduced State expenditure to tackle the decline in our collective fortunes.

I also took particular note of the statement by new Central Bank Governor, Dr Alvin Hillaire, during his first meeting with the media on 31 December 2015 – “…I won’t distance myself from the recession statement. The situation is serious and demands attention…“. Dr Hillaire was of course referring to the 4 December disclosure of a recession by his predecessor, Jwala Rambarran.

The proposals for public housing to be provided by private sector investment were certainly interesting, but this column will be making additional proposals for decisive cost-savings within relatively easy reach. Low-hanging fruit, so to speak.


The State embarked upon a huge program to construct offices in Port of Spain during the pre-2010 term of the then PNM government. A staggering total of 2.3M square feet of offices were constructed by the State via its implementing Agency, UDECOTT, in that surge of construction activity. That total does not include the 1,800-space Queen Street ‘Parkade’ which spans the block between Richmond and Edward Streets (see Sidebar for details). Continue reading “Property Matters – State Offices”