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BARROW SAYS HILLTOP SALE REGRETTABLE

BARROW SAYS HILLTOP SALE REGRETTABLE
November 22
17:50 2018
THE REPORTER: News Staff, - 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with executive of the Public Service Union (PSU) this morning at the Biltmore hotel, following an uproar from the Union after its Hilltop, Belmopan headquarters was recently sold by the Belmopan City Council.

According to Barrow, “We agree that the objective is to restore control of that Hilltop property to the PSU and I have proposed a way to make that happen and we are both sides absolutely confident in consequence that it will occur. Barrow declined to elaborate on how this would be done but said he was certain that the government would be able to procure the property and restore the PSU to its Hilltop headquarters.

Barrow conceded that the Belmopan City Council should have notified the PSU of its intentions to sell the property before that decision was made. He added that he would not make a pronouncement on the merits of selling the property as that was the Council’s right to make that decision but said it would have been preferable for the PSU to have been notified and given first preference. “It was regrettable that wasn’t done,” Barrow said.

Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, PSU President Doreth Cayetano told the media that the meeting was productive and said both sides have agreed to move forward beyond the sale of the property, which drew the union’s ire, and figure out ways to re-acquire the property for the union. According to Cayetano, further discussions will be held to determine the specifics of acquiring the property.

Cayetano said the union had also decided to hold off on its announcement to mount a legal challenge following the outcome of the meeting with the PM. Cayetano also disclosed that contrary to an announcement by Belmopan Mayor Khalid Belisle that he would meet with the union to address the matter, no such meeting with Belisle has yet taken place. Cayetano emphasized that the union remains adamant that it will not accept a relocation from the Hilltop property. “That’s a big no,” Cayetano said, when asked if the union would give the option any consideration.

The PSU has used the Hilltop property as its headquarters for the past 18 years. Belisle, however, had defended the sale of the property, claiming that the PSU had only made four payments since leasing the land for $500 a month in 2001. The PSU, however, countered the allegation saying that the PSU was given the property to manage in 1998.

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