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Apr 26, 2017

The New Immigration Building in Belmopan Will Not Be Chon Saan Palace

The prospect of government purchasing the Chon Saan Building in Belmopan is officially off the table, and Cabinet has given the green light to the Immigration Department to scout around once again for a new office space.  Well, they aren’t looking very far.  In fact, a pretty huge piece of unused real estate is being looked at just across the street from the existing building.  While the department is working within a particular budget, the Ministry of Finance is yet to formalize a lease agreement with the owners of the property.  Several key features related to the building are being considered, including square footage, partitioning and parking.  According to Minister of State for Immigration, Beverly Williams, the possibilities of renting out other properties on a long-term basis had been contemplated; however, those structures did not meet the requirements of the department.

 

Beverly Williams

Beverly Williams, Minister of Immigration

“We had approval, in principle, again, from Cabinet to go looking again and we’ve done that.  Just across the street there’s a large building that was never occupied.  It’s a new building but it’s up for lease.  At this time we are hoping for a long-term lease.  The owner has indicated that that would be available to us.  But again, the process is to look at the structure to see how we would fit in.  We are requesting the architects from the Ministry of Works to help us in drawing the structures within the various sections.  So we look at how the cabinets will fit, how you will house staff to make customer service as friendly as it can be.  So that process, we’re just waiting for two more units and then we’ll be able to make that proposal to government for final approval.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Are you guys working within a specific budget?  I know that the last building that you guys were looking at, there were issues with regards to the appraisal of the value of the building versus the money that government would be willing to spend on it.  Is it the same constraints we’re seeing here with this particular building?”

 

Beverly Williams

“Well it will be the very same constraints but, as I said, once we present based on what the architects draw that would make a proper fit we would present that.  The building can be rented by units but of course we look at security issues and if we do not take the entire structure then how do we secure the area that we’re using to avoid any infringement on privileged documents or security for money instruments because passports mean money.  The visa foils mean money.  So how do we do in accordance with the guidelines that’s provided for those security.”

 

The Immigration Department and the Ministry of Finance were initially in discussion with businessman Lee Mark Chang to purchase the Chon Saan Building in the Piccini area of Belmopan.  Following independent appraisals of the property, a purchase price could not be agreed upon.

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