A Government Senator has described the Government Headquarters building on Bay Street, which houses the office of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as “aged and tired”.
Speaking during debate in the Upper House on a $17.625 million loan from First Citizens Bank (Barbados) Ltd, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Irene Sandiford-Garner explained that arrangements for the ten-year financial package would be made through the Barbados Conference Services Limited (BCSL). The loan is to assist with the retrofitting of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC), so that it can accommodate the Bay Street offices temporarily.
“Many of you with a political history know that Bay Street has looked that way from the day it was built. And when you work in those offices you realize that the internal facilities and the internal infrastructure are just as aged and tired as the external façade,” Sandiford-Garner said.
She explained that the LESC lease agreement includes rent, service charge and outfitting costs, all of which will contribute to the repayment of the loan.
“That means that LESC will not receive any subventions from Government to repay any of the money it has borrowed. When we start to rent those floors, we will be paying the interest and the principle from the rent that we will be receiving,” she said.
Sandiford-Garner, whose comments came against the backdrop of recent concerns raised by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party about the financial viability of the LESC, pointed out that its annual subvention had been reduced from $2 million to $1.7 million last year.
And while acknowledging that it was still not a major revenue-generating entity, she said BCSL recognized a $4.2 million increase in revenue as at March 31, 2016, over the previous year’s figure of $3.9 million.
“And I’m told that at March 28, which was yesterday, we were running at seven per cent ahead of what we were making at the same period last year. So that tells me that despite the fact that we are not a major revenue generating facility as yet, we are making our way out of our debt and these things take time,” she said.
Sandiford-Garner also reported that the LESC had realized significant savings over the past few years due to investment in energy saving initiatives.
“One of the first things we [the current Democratic Labour Party administration] did was to establish a relationship with the Government Smart Energy Project and we outfitted the whole building with LEDs between 2011 and 2013. And from that time to now, where we would have seen an electricity bill during that period electricity bill fell from $1 million, our last electricity bill was $745,000,” the Government Senator said.
She also spoke of plans to install LEDs along the walkways and photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building, saying the intention was to have the entire facility powered by solar energy.
“This is an initiative that I think every single business person should be examining in Barbados going forward. Our reliance on fossil fuel has cost this country greatly and . . .
I don’t even think we should restrict it to just business people, but any person going forward in building their own home, or any facility that will use a considerable amount of electricity should sit down and put pen to paper and examine the common sense and the dollars and cents in looking to see how you can institute a green energy home, a home that relies on the sun that we have setting and rising in this country every day,” Sandiford-Garner said.
She also disclosed that the BCSL had entered into an agreement with the Barbados Light & Power Company, which is expected to realize savings of $3,000 per month. Under that agreement, when the BL&P service is interrupted, the BCSL will use its own generators and will be reimbursed by the power company.