PAAC members Fitz Jackson and Alando Terrelonge question Lincoln Allen, CEO of the CLA
The management of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has been placed in the spotlight following a revelation the agency has been locked into a more than $160 million lease arrangement for it's New Kingston offices.
At Wednesday's sitting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), it was revealed that the annual rent for the CLA's offices is $30 million, with an additional $3 million per year for parking.
It was further disclosed by Lincoln Allen, Chief Executive Officer of the CLA, that the Authority is locked into the lease arrangement for five years.
Fitz Jackson, Opposition member of the PAAC, questioned why the CLA was costing taxpayers $33 million a year instead of occupying an existing government building.
"A few years ago, the OPM did an extensive review of government properties throughout the country to establish unused spaces at government owned properties. You are telling me that your agency could not have found any one of those places that you could renovate to a acceptable (sic) standard for what you're doing and still save out of it?" he asked.
Mr. Allen explained that because the agency had already set up office at the location, when it decided to expand, it took on additional space at the property so as not to break the existing lease.
Questioned about whether the rent was in line with market prices, Mr. Allen answered in the affirmative, noting that the CLA had engaged the National Land Agency which provided the technical assistance to acquire the space and that within that area, the price was "consistent with what obtains there."