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Nov 3, 2020

$15 Million Contract to I.E. for Construction of New Foreign Affairs Building

The People’s United Party also disclosed details of contracts to International Environments.  The company is owned by brothers Daniel and Carlo Arguelles, who offer services in development, construction, planning, designs, analysis, feasibility studies and environmental impact assessment.  The brothers are recently known for constructing the Belize City Centre Sports Complex and a host of other facilities to the tune of one hundred and three million dollars.  But there is one recent contract that the P.U.P. zoomed-in today and that is the fourteen point nine million-dollar contract for the construction of a new Foreign Affairs Building in Belmopan.  The construction is being funded through a grant from the Taiwanese Embassy, but the P.U.P. pointed out today that the government failed to deposit the monies into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The P.U.P.’s Cayo South Area Representative Julius Espat, an architect by profession, says that the contract is overpriced. Aside from the multimillion-dollar contracts, Espat showed a letter sent by Daniel Arguelles to the FinSec asking to be fully exempted from import duty on a Range Rover to conduct site visits.  The P.U.P. attorney, Eamon Courtenay says that an investigation should be launched into the contracts awarded to the Arguelles brothers.


Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for P.U.P.

“It is difficult to understand why it is that the government that has made a pledge to good governance and transparency found a reason to enter into an arrangement in which fifteen million dollars donated to Belize was not deposited in the consolidated revenue fund, was not deposited in government accounts and paid directly to I.E. What this allowed is that there was no oversight by the Auditor General. It means that there was no oversight by the Public Accounts Committee. Regardless of the reason for doing, this is a gross violation of the law and in my opinion a violation from Finance and Audit Reform Act which constitutes a criminal offence. Like the Brads contract this requires a full forensic investigation.”


Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South

“It is fifteen million dollars, I have the contract document here, and then I looked at the size of the building. You are talking about a building of twenty five thousand square foot. And then I start to call my colleague in the construction industry, architects, engineers, contractors and I did a survey as to what would the most expensive local high end structure in this country cost per square foot and the highest number we came up with including fees, professional fees, landscaping, furnishing and everything of a building of twenty five thousand square foot would be about two hundred and eighty dollars per square foot. You calculate a building of twenty five thousand square foot. You times it by two hundred and eighty dollars per square foot at the high end and it would be give you an approximate cost of seven million dollars for a building of this type. After all of this they are asking for the building to be duty free which gives them a saving of another twenty five percent. And then what annoyed me the most is that they asked for a Range Rover which valued three hundred thousand dollars to be able to come in duty free too. In the paper here it says for use during the construction of the project. I’ve been building for over twenty seven years and I have never seen a Range Rover being utilized for the construction of any project. It does not have the ability of a crane. It does not have the ability of a backhoe. It has four wheel drive so many that is a reason that you can go to the site. I see no justifiable reason.”

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