Espat Says MOF Building Most Expensive Ever - 01/07/21 12:05 PM
And back now to Minister of Infrastructure Julius Espat. In his one hour press conference held via zoom today, he discussed Belize Infrastructure Limited, or BIL. They are overseeing he construction of the new Ministry of Finance Building on Lake I Boulevard and the Minister said it's the most expensive building per square foot that he's ever seen:
Hon. Julius Espat
"Remember before the general election I spoke about the foreign affairs building costing approximately $600 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 $28 million needs to be spent for it to be completed. It is running approximately $1,300 per square foot involving the same contractors. It will take some time but we will have to find out why is it that buildings were awarded to specific contractors are ending up costing us about 4-5 times the normal value of construction in Belize. As I have indicated in the past, the highest I can come up with was between $250-$300 per square foot in Belize in the most expensive zones which are Placencia and San Pedro. I was alarmed at the time with $600 per square foot. I was blown out of my chair the other day when the ministry of finance sent me some of the contracts for $28 million dollars and averaging $1,300 per square foot. The worst part of it is that it was difficult to determine the final cost because the way the contracts were set up, it was done by pieces. One contract was for $15 million and then they submitted another contract for $5 million and $3 million until you had to physically - and I don't even know if we have gotten to the bottom of all the contracts. At this point in time with the tallying that we have done, It's at $28 million dollars and the building is still not completed. We don't even know what was the proposed used of the building. You are caught up in a situation where you have contracts that are binding and therefore even though it is perceived to be corrupt and extravagant, at the end of the day it is a legal contract. The government of Belize will have to determine what is in their benefit, to stop the project and go through litigation. Comparative to that, is it worth the while finishing it and start having your ministries use it instead of paying rental which right now I think the ministry of finance is paying about $25,000 a month rental out there."