Contact: Corporate Communications Unit, 627-0083
March 5, 2009.
UDeCOTT wishes to address the misleading headlines which appeared in a daily newspaper on March 02, 2009 and to clarify the following regarding the cost of constructing the Official Residence of the Prime Minister and the Diplomatic Center.
1. The contract sum for the design and construction of the Official Residence of Prime Minister and Diplomatic Center was $148.1 million, disaggregated as follows:
• Official Residence – $36 Mn;
• Diplomatic Center – $55 Mn
• Preliminaries, design fees, army post Security building and other external works – $57.1Mn
2. Subsequent to the construction of both buildings, additional infrastructure and construction works were undertaken so as to enhance and supplement the facilities provided at these buildings, having regard to the increasing use of the Diplomatic Center to host a number of important regional and international events.
3. The cost of additional infrastructure/ construction and other works not included in the original is now $38,003,306 and includes but is not limited to the construction of an administration building, multi- vehicle garage, facilities for drivers of visiting dignitaries, additional public washrooms, additional landscaping, boundary walls, furniture, equipment, utilities and external security.
Outfitting Costs – (Furniture, fixtures and Equipment).
4. It is well known that when construction of buildings is completed it is necessary to supply and install furniture, fixtures and fittings and grounds must be landscaped. As a result therefore, a separate sum of $19.9 million was approved by the Cabinet for the outfitting of the Official Residence and the Diplomatic Center. This involved the provision of furniture, fixtures and equipment for both the Official Residence and the Diplomatic Center. It should be noted that the Diplomatic Center contains a multi-purpose/dining room and performance area, kitchen facilities, meeting and conference space and a media room to accommodate local and international media and to facilitate live broadcasts.
5. Due to the public importance of both buildings, there was a need to ensure that value for money was obtained in the outfitting and that quality materials were procured at the best prices, locally and internationally. As such, the outfitting of both the Official Residence and the Diplomatic Center was undertaken in conjunction with a local interior decorator. The outfitting of the buildings was not a part of SCG’s original scope. This was separate and distinct from the construction costs.
6. In the supply of furniture, fixtures and equipment, SCG obtained quotes from and subcontracted certain elements of the works to a number of local suppliers. Some of the work elements undertaken by local contractors and suppliers included the landscaping works, provision of generators for both facilities, provision of draperies and blinds, outfitting of the kitchen and the provision of appliances. Additionally, some of the furniture was obtained from local suppliers.
7. In light of the quotations received for procuring some of the furniture and soft furnishings locally, and after due consideration of the current market prices, SCG found that it would be more cost effective to import some of these items.
8. As a result of a security recommendation, three doors comprising two panels each incorporating security features to restrict entry, were manufactured and installed in the Official Residence at a cost of $47,616.00. This figure of $47,616.00 includes the cost of the three doors, renovations and rebuilding of walls.
9. The Prime Minister’s Residence functions not only as the Official Residence of the holder of the office of Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago but can also be used to accommodate visiting dignitaries, all of whom will have access to and use of the equipment of both buildings.
10. These buildings have been in use since August 2007 and members of all media were invited to tour the facilities on August 29, 2007. Since the handover, these buildings have been used to host a number of important national events such as the National Awards and Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Award Functions and regional and international dignitaries, including:
(a) Caricom Heads of Government;
(b) Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall;
(c) The U S Secretary of Energy;
(d) His Excellency He Guoqiang, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China; and
(e) Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain.
11. Additionally, these buildings will also be used for holding some of the events relating to the upcoming:
(a) Summit of the Americas; and
(b) Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
UDeCOTT would like to draw to the attention of the public that the Official Residence and Diplomatic Center and all of its furniture, fixtures and equipment do not belong to the Office holder, whomsoever he or she may be but are and will remain the property of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Furthermore, both the Official Residence & Diplomatic Center were constructed on time and within budget to the highest quality for and on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.