Faced with a staggering rent arrears bill to the tune of over $5 million dollars by some clients occupying space in some Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) estates, the entity is working to implement a policy to address this.

Chief Executive Officer, Basil Lavine, disclosed this today during a wide-ranging press conference at the Corporation’s Pelican House, Pelican, St. Michael offices.

Emphasising that rent collection represented a "major portion of the corporation’s financial resources", he said the delinquency had hampered the company’s efforts to assist others clients. "When a client does not pay his rent for whatever reason, it compromises our ability to assist other clients.?? If we can collect 50 per cent of the arrears this year, we would be able to deal with our programmes," Mr. Lavine explained.

The BIDC official pointed out that evicting people was not the first option and added: "There are a number of clients who have been there for a long time that no private sector landlord would have tolerated. So, as a developmental agency, we have not used eviction as the first option, but rather, we work with our clients."

Chairman of BIDC’s Board, Dr. Don Marshall, who also addressed the issue, revealed that during the last 18 months, the corporation had instituted a moratorium on businesses that had fallen behind in rent payments.

He reasoned that due to the ongoing economic recession, a number of enterprises had been unable to meet their obligations and hinted at rent adjustments to assist some categories of businesses.

The Chairman said those businesses were part of a programme to tailor rental rates. "We have gone a year and some with that policy … we are exercising greater stringency because we have a very small percentage of cases where we have loafing going on."

Given this situation, Dr. Marshall stated the BIDC would examine the cases and initiate "last ditch efforts to rescue a very dire situation," before sending notices to quit to its clients.

"We have to be very careful about what types of businesses are prone to depression and which kind are not prone to this type of impact.?? But, that calls for research and working more closely with the business development officers in the BIDC, to determine what constitutes genuine malaise from mismanagement.

"But we are very sensitive about it and we must implement a flexible developmental approach to some of these businesses.?? But, the two or three per cent that occupy our property as tenants that are clearly in breach of the terms and conditions of the lease, we will be moving vigilantly and expeditiously, to do the right thing," Dr. Marshall observed.


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