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Cable & Wireless operating from property owned by Government?

Cable & Wireless operating from property owned by Government?

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Is telecommunications giant Cable & Wireless operating from a building owned by the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines?{{more}}

From a presentation made in the House of Assembly yesterday by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, it would appear so.

Responding to a question posed by member for West Kingstown Daniel Cummings, Gonsalves said the property on which the Cable & Wireless building on Halifax Street stands is owned by the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said according to Agreement number 696 of 1988, the land at Halifax Street was leased to Cable & Wireless for 20 years.

For the first 10 years, the company was required to pay $2,000 a year, with a payment of $4,000 being paid for each of the next 10 years, for a total of $60,000 over the 20-year period.

The lease, which was signed on February 19, 1988 by the then government, also says after the 20-year period, which came to an end in 2008, there is a 10-year option which says a rent will be charged, which will be based on the current value of the premises.

However, Gonsalves said since 2008, no rent has been collected.

“You know, if a lease comes to an end, under the law of this country, and there is no payment for anything further and no continuation, the building which is on it, also belongs to the lessor.”

Although he did not specify what or to whom he was referring, the Prime Minister commented about what he viewed as Government being treated as though it were a non governmental organization (NGO).

“When everybody wants to do things with government and to treat government as though it is an NGO, I haven’t said anything about this and I only say something now, because this question is being raised,” he said.

Cummings sought to find out the “exact terms and conditions under which the car park in Kingstown, built by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce was granted to a private business entity to manage; was there a requirement to submit audited financial statements and if so where were those audited financial statements submitted;” and if the second question was yes, “would the statements be made public and/or tabled in this Honourable House.”

Gonsalves said the car park is being leased by the company Solidarity Inc., whose principal entities are the National Labour Congress and the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA).

He said their lease is agreement number 4182 of 2010, for ten years, at a yearly payment of $50,000.

He compared this with the $60,000 paid by Cable & Wireless over 20 years.

“The Chamber had it for ten years and I can’t remember anybody raising a quesiton about it in public…

“I notice the question said it was granted to a private business entity to manage. Well, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce was a private entity also. They had it for 10 years,…. what is the problem with the workers and farmers having it for 10 years?” he asked.

“They have to pay $50,000 a year. We are not giving them at a pepper corn rent, what Cable & Wireless got is practically peppercorn.

“It is a private entity and there is nothing in the agreement which says that the goverment needs to see their balance sheet,” Gonsalves said.

He also said he has never heard of a private entity being made to lay audited statements in the House of Assembly. He, however, said financials of any company could be viewed at the Commerical and Intellectual Property Office. He said he has been informed that the first year’s business of Solidarity Inc. is currently being audited.

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