30 beneficiaries receive vouchers under Govt’s $800M steel, cement initiative

The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) has commenced the distribution of vouchers for the government’s $800 million Steel and Cement Subsidy Initiative for home builders.

On Tuesday, the initiative was officially launched at a ceremony held at the Housing and Water Ministry’s Brickdam, Georgetown office, where the first 30 beneficiaries received their vouchers.

Housing and Water Minister, Collin Croal handing over the voucher to one of the families

The programme aims to assist eligible families and individuals in purchasing steel and cement, which are essential building materials for home construction. Those constructing homes that cost $6 million or less, will receive vouchers to purchase the required steel and one sling of cement for the construction of the foundation.

For home builders spending between $6 to $25 million, two slings of cement will be provided.

In his address, the Housing and Water Minister, Collin Croal described the exercise as a concrete demonstration of the government’s commitment to providing housing interventions to citizens to reduce the burden of homeownership, especially amid rising global prices and other challenges.

Speaking about the trickle-down effect of the programme, Minister Croal explained, “In just this simple programme today, just the 30 of you, we will see therefore, by the time you leave the possibility of the injection of about over $10.5 million into the economy.”

Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues handing over the voucher to one of the beneficiaries

The initiative was officially announced by President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali at the International Building Expo in July last year. 

Not a hand out

Minister within the Ministry, Susan Rodrigues stated that the initiative is not a ‘hand out’, but instead, it is intended to ensure that citizens can attain ownership following the government’s policy.

Despite the government’s efforts to facilitate access to financing for home construction, some people still struggle to come up with the initial down payment for loans. Minister Rodrigues said the initiative has helped many to overcome this obstacle.

“The banks now are using the cost of the house lot…and the values of cement and steel, which will be given to you will help to make up that equity payment thereby allowing you to be able to get the final approval for your mortgage,” she explained.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of CHPA, Sherwyn Greaves, the ministry has received 1,034 applications from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine, and Ten. Out of those applications, 697 have been verified, and 397 have been recommended to the housing subsidy committee for review. The committee has approved 134 of those applications.

Beneficiary, Darren Isardin

In the next two weeks, more than 500 qualified applicants from across the country will be receiving cement and steel materials. These beneficiaries will be able to redeem their materials from selected suppliers in their respective regions. It is important to note that all suppliers will be offering the materials at the same price.

During an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Darren Isardin, one of the beneficiaries of the programme, emphasised the significance of such initiatives, particularly due to the soaring prices of construction materials.

He explained that, “Cement and steel have always been expensive over the years, which creates a financial burden for homeowners. However, with this subsidy, it will provide tremendous help to homeowners.”

Beneficiary, Hyacinth Benjamin

Also, Hyacinth Benjamin, who received vouchers for slings of cement, said she will now be able to start the construction of her home on a piece of land she received several years ago.

“I’m so proud of it. I’m proud of every part of it. I’ve had my land for so long, and I’ve been waiting to build on it. I was even afraid that they might take it away from me, so I thank God that he has answered my prayers,” said the overjoyed Hyacinth.