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Feb 24, 2017

Immigration Still Interested in Chon Saan Building But Looking at Other Options

Will government proceed with the purchase of the Chon Saan Building in Belmopan?  As we’ve reported, the Immigration Department is looking for real estate to house a new passport system donated by the United States Embassy.  While the restaurant building, property of businessman Lee Mark Chang, who is also President of the Senate, is being considered, the price tag on the million dollar building is not within government’s budget.  Information suggests that there are other buildings under consideration including one owned by the deceased former Solicitor General Gian Ghandi, which may be more adequate for the immigration department.  Minister of State Beverly Williams, who oversees the daily operations of the Immigration Department, is not directly involved in the prospecting of a new office space; however, she has been able to provide an update on the process.

 

Beverly Williams

Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration

“The United States Embassy or the IOM, International Organization for Migration, is only one of the partners or donors in terms of assistance for a passport system.  We’ve all agreed, I believe that government shared that view that we cannot take such an important new architecture and put it in a structure that would not be conducive to productivity.  And so we’ve searched and we’ve searched for a building and as recent as this week we are looking at other options but we have not secured any agreement as yet.  But hopefully in the next week or two we will have something positive to go forward and the development of the system because the discussions are underway and it’s just to ensure that we have an environment that is conducive to such an infrastructure and then we’ll be able to begin the development.  I think the donors are prepared, they’re ready and once the development starts, as I said, it has a six to eight month development period and then outlay.  So that should happen shortly.  It is an important, important initiative that is underway and we are looking seriously at it.  I believe that the people in Belmopan are in discussions right now as to how we proceed, ensuring, for example, that security features, the renewal stickers bear those security features.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“To go back a bit, is it to say then that the prospect of purchasing the Chon Saan Building in Belmopan is off the table at this point, seeing as though you are looking for architecture that is conducive to this new machine?”

 

Beverly Williams

“I don’t know if it’s off the table, I wasn’t in the negotiation process.  The Immigration Department was mostly involved in looking at the structure to see whether it’s adequate.  Yes it may be adequate but it does not fit our pocket and so if it is not going to fit there, if we can come to some compromise between the buyer, the seller and the offer [then] I wouldn’t want to say it’s off the table.”

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