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Jun 27, 2017

Works Ministry says it will stick to final evaluation for Felix Castillo’s land

On Monday, we brought you the exclusive story of Felix Castillo, whose land in the Santa Elena area Government took over, along with other landowners, for purposes of building the new Macal River Bridge and redoing the road from La Loma Luz Boulevard around downtown to Joseph Andrews Drive to accommodate heavy traffic. It has been several years since Government agreed with a valuator that the land was worth several million dollars, but Castillo has not gotten a dime, because he and the Government have been unable to agree on the price of compensation. In an interview in his Belmopan office, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Works, Errol Gentle, contends that the Government is constrained both by its funding for the Fourth Road Project and their valuation to limit terms of compensation, although he is sympathetic for the loss of Castillo’s family’s livelihood through the stone quarry they operated in the area.

 

Errol Gentle, C.E.O., Ministry of Works

Errol Gentle

“We started negotiating with one of the younger Castillos. Usually in compensation cases, the evaluation for that land is done by a Government evaluator. Now you as the landowner, you have all right to go and do your own evaluation; the Ministry of Works, we can do our own evaluation; but at the end of the day, the evaluation we have to go by is the evaluation done by the Government evaluator which sits in the Ministry of National Resources which sits in the Lands Department. We started negotiating with the Castillos; first of all, the evaluation for the land, we had three different evaluations and the evaluations were extremely high. When we did our final evaluation, and I am talking about using the same price that we used to pay the other landowners, we discussed with the Castillos and it was rejected, because the evaluation they did, I think it was somewhere in the cost of about seven or eight million dollars; our evaluation for the two parcels, and we are talking about market value, I think we valued it somewhere between three hundred to three hundred and fifty thousand dollars; it would be between three hundred fifty to four [hundred] thousand; but it was not over four [hundred] thousand Belize dollars. The reason why we were doing the compensation or the discussion is that we were allocated funds to pay for the compensation but again it was limited funds, the funds were based on the valuation that we did – and when I say we I’m talking about the Government now, not the Ministry of Works, the Government evaluation. So if the Government evaluates at a certain value, who am I? – I’m just C.E.O. for the Ministry of Works; my job is to get the bridge done. So I cannot go now and agree to eight million dollars, where will I get that seven point seven million dollars from? And that is where we [are.] we are at this point – yes, the bridge is about to be opened and the Castillos have not been paid; we are still open to negotiations but at the end of the day, that final valuation or the payment by Government will have to be whatever is advised, whatever compensation is advised or authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Finance.”

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1 Response for “Works Ministry says it will stick to final evaluation for Felix Castillo’s land”

  1. spike says:

    Part of the reason the GOB is short of funds is because of all the money they have to pay out for court ordered land fraud compensation cases. If the Dept. of Lands weren’t so corrupt in the first place, they might have the funds necessary to compensate deserving land holders. But … that ain’t gonna happen!

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