Social Security Board wants rent from gov’t

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The Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board (ABSSB) has reached an understanding with the Government of Antigua & Barbuda that the two other statutory corporations utilising its Coolidge property must pay rent.

This was according to Minister of Information Melford Nicholas, who said the understanding followed a visit of ABSSB representatives to the Cabinet on March 8, 2017.

“What the board members needed to bring to the Cabinet’s attention is that as an asset [the Coolidge property] was intended to generate cash. I think we had a reasonable conversation about how notwithstanding the utilisation of that facility by both the medical benefits and APUA – how that could translate into positive funds flow into social security,” he said.

The former United States (US) Air Station property was turned over to the ABSSB in an asset swap designed to reduce the multimillion-dollar debt, which the government had to the statutory corporation.

However, Nicholas said that the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) was using the property for the construction of a new reverse osmosis (RO) plant while the Ministry of Health was utilising the property for the Central Medical Stores – a function that it is turning over to the Medical Benefits Board.

The minister of information said that the ministry of health had been “paying rent to a landlord” when the medical stores were located on Old Parham Road.

“So it presents an opportunity even within the government that the funds will flow to social security for the utilisation of that facility,” Nicholas said.

He added that the flow of cash between statutory bodies yet within the government on a whole was “in keeping with the desire for the government to save and to reduce the cost envelope for rent”.

OBSERVER media called the Director of the ABSSB David Matthias but the calls went unanswered.

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