FNM govt squandered millions in rent on unoccupied buildings
Despite declaring that the country’s financial cupboards are bare, the Minnis administration flushed millions of dollars in taxpayer funds down the drain, renting buildings that government entities never occupied.
In October 2018, the former government entered a ten-year lease with Bahamas Business Solutions to rent a building for Bahamas Information Services at a cost of $419,475 a year.
According to documents obtained by the Gallery, two years after the $31,000 monthly payments began, the building remains unoccupied.
Officials claimed the Ministry of Works is still completing plans to facilitate the retrofitting and allow the move. Though the building has sat empty for two years, monthly payments are still being made.
Then in July 2020, the Minnis Administration entered a 10-year lease for an astounding $1.3 million annually for Courtesy House, a building that has yet to be occupied by the
Inland Revenue Department and sections of the Ministry of Finance.
Despite this, the former government pissed away $97,411 a month on the building for over 15 months.
The same goes for a building the former government agreed to rent from First Terrace Investment Ltd. for five years to house the Auditor General’s Office as of October 2019.
Two years and $504,000 in payments later, the Auditor General’s Office has still not moved into the 6,900 square foot building.
The government’s excuse is, “They are waiting for the installation of telephone and IT capabilities and will be able to move in thereafter.”
In the meantime, “monthly payments are being made.”
In October 2019, the Minnis Administration also began renting a “garden view office complex” from Rolle and Rolle for the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services.
The seven-year agreement is costing Bahamian taxpayers $275,000 a year. The department’s staff never moved into the building because “the Landlord has not completed installations to allow for occupancy” but the government made monthly payments anyway.
Rolle and Rolle also failed to complete installations on another building it is renting to the government over a five-year period for the Urban Renewal Commission but the Minnis Administration still cut monthly Cheques to the landlord in the amount of $30,000.
As everyday Bahamians continue to feel the burden of higher taxes, the Minnis-led government found yet another way to fatten the bank accounts of staunch supporters and family members.