New Treasury Building, How Much will It Really Cost?

On Wednesday, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing Julius Espat detailed the allegations of misuse of resources by former Minister Rene Montero. He also shed light on the ongoing review of high-cost public buildings initiated under the previous administration.  Viewers will recall that the Belize Infrastructure Limited, B.I.L., was the special purpose vehicle under the previous administration that oversaw the construction of several public buildings, including the Belize City Center and the new treasury building that remains under construction on Lake Independence Boulevard.  That building is nearing completion, and with twenty-eight million Belize dollars already invested in it, it is still short of several million dollars.  It is also the most expensive piece of real estate in the country, with one square foot of space costing roughly one thousand, three hundred dollars.  According to Minister Espat, it is difficult to calculate the building’s actual cost at this juncture because contracts for its completion have been awarded in phases.

Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development

“There’s another responsibility that we were given after the general election, under this ministry and that is BIL and that one can become even more alarming.  I’ll give you an example.  Remember before the general elections I spoke about the Foreign Affairs Building costing approximately six hundred dollars per square foot.  Well we just got information that the Ministry of Finance Building that is on the Lake Independence Boulevard in Belize City is approximately twenty-eight million dollars needs to be spent for it to be completed and it is running approximately one thousand, three hundred dollars per square foot, involving the same contractors.  And so it will take some time but we will have to find out why is it that buildings that were awarded to specific contractors are ending up costing us about four or five times the normal value of construction in Belize.  As I have indicated in the past, the highest I could come up with was between two-fifty to three hundred dollars in Belize in the most expensive zone which are Placencia and San Pedro and I was alarmed at the time with six hundred dollars a square foot.  Well I was blown out of my chair the other when the Ministry of Finance sent me some of the contracts.  Twenty-eight million dollars, averaging one thousand, three hundred dollars per square foot and the worst part of it is that it is difficult to determine the final cost because the way the contracts were set up, it was done by pieces.  One contract was for fifteen million then they submitted another contract for five [million], another one for three until you had to physically, and I dont even know if we have gotten to the bottom of all the contracts, but at this point in time with the tallying that we are doing, its at twenty-eight million dollars and the building is still not completed.”

Channel 5