Temporary relocation of AGD approved amid air quality concerns

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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CABINET on Tuesday approved the temporary relocation of the Accountant General's Department (AGD) amidst concerns raised about the air quality at the present location.

The submission was prepared by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service as a first action item following a meeting with Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke and the AGD staff last Friday, where they expressed their frustration with the work environment, a release said on Tuesday.

Dr Clarke assured the staff that, “we intend to move speedily to identify a suitable location to temporarily house the offices of the Accountant General's Department”.

The release said the finance minister also indicated that further rehabilitation work and tests would be done at the existing location by suitably qualified independent third parties, at which time a final determination will be made on the habitation of the building.

The Government in March 2017 spent more than half-a- billion dollars to retrofit the building leased to house the AGD in downtown Kingston .

The building, which is owned by King Church Property Holdings, was retrofitted at a cost of $478 million.

At the same time, more than $40 million in additional funding was provided in the 2017/18 Estimates of Expenditure tabled last year in the House of Representatives, to complete the build-out of the AGD. The money, which has been provided from the Consolidated Fund, is being used for the payment of retention works that have been completed.

The department is expected to pay $90 million per year in rental.

Last year, the finance ministry was less than forthcoming with information regarding the leasing and upgrading of the department months after then Portfolio Minister Audley Shaw told Parliament that the AGD was being relocated to facilitate an expansion of the courts.

Shaw, in 2016, gave a November 7 timeline for full relocation of the department to the new facility at 2-4 King Street, but that process began late.

The AGD was relocated to the Ministry of Health's old building, despite that ministry being relocated to New Kingston because of poor air quality.

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