Tax Administration defends hefty price tag for unoccupied leased building

Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) has sought to justify the hefty renovation cost for an unoccupied building in Mandeville, Manchester.

This is in the wake of public criticism, following a disclosure during parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, on Tuesday that the TAJ expects to spend one billion dollars to retrofit the building.

In a statement, TAJ explained that retrofitting works include, upgrades to the facilities, environmentally sound considerations, and digital capacities required of a modern-day tax facility. 

It said the unique requirements of the Revenue Service Centre (RSC) dictate that a number of preparations have to be made for it to be fully functional.

These include, demolition works, sub-structure, walls and partitions, structural steel framing, installation of windows, floor, wall, ceiling finishes, fixture and furnishing, sanitary fitting and plumbing, mechanical, electrical and plumbing, structured cabling, and air conditioning system installation.

Upon completion the new revenue service centre in Mandeville will replace two tax locations at south Racecourse and Caledonia Avenue.

The TAJ said, given the growth in the volume of transactions at the tax offices that serve Mandeville and surrounding communities it is necessary to engage in a comprehensive upgrade in order to better serve the public.

It said the existing locations in Mandeville are restricted to standing room only, with customers sometimes having to wait outside, under tents and exposed to the elements.

Hence the need to have a new facility, with adequate waiting areas, and sufficient parking space.

The taj entered a long-term lease for a property on approximately 1 acre of land, which allows the entity to build what will be the third largest RSC in Jamaica. The lease is for 24 years with an option to renew.

TAJ said the new lease arrangement will be advantageous to the government as the cost per square footage is less than what is currently being paid by the company in Mandeville.

TAJ reiterated that government’s procurement process, requires a signed lease for the property before commencing the procurement to engage technical and contracting services for works.

The procurement process for renovating the space of the size leased for the RSC operations requires cabinet’s approval and a consultant to manage the project.

TAJ said it therefore means two separate procurement processes; one for the consultant and another for the build-out contractor, which cumulatively can take up to 14 months for completion.


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