Gov’t committed to promoting homeownership, not disenfranchising citizens − Min Croal

-Chides APNU+AFC for doing nothing for Mocha informal settlers

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal has made it clear that the government is not in the business of disenfranchising residents, but about making homeownership accessible for all citizens.

The minister was on Thursday responding to opposition comments in relation to the Caneview (Mocha) issue.

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal

Minister Croal told the National Assembly that the decision to relocate the squatters followed consultations and a range of interventions aimed at ensuring residents are provided with the necessary assistance to be relocated to developed housing schemes.

“This matter did not start overnight, it started in 2008…We followed the process. We engaged and consulted and every time a new excuse was made, we tried to find another way to resolve those issues, until we ran out of options,” Minister Croal revealed.

He chided the APNU+AFC Coalition for doing absolutely nothing to assist those squatters during its five years in office, and now want to deprive the residents of a better standard of living.

“We offer all seven of the remaining squatters complete houses and they refused,” he stated.

The minister said the ministry is focused on providing subsidised housing for citizens, noting that government remains committed to providing opportunities to make homeownership a reality.

According to the housing minister, “It has been so since the PPP/C returned to power in 1992. It is the commitment of every President of the PPP/C, every government of the PPP/C. We have not wavered from our commitment.”

The housing minister said among the interventions is the regularisation of old squatter settlements and resolving the issue of squatters occupying government reserves.

We regularised six areas and reduced squatter settlements from 19 to 13. This year, we will continue the process of regularising 13 settlements and by the end of this year we will complete the relocation and resettlement of close to 1,000 households,” Minister Croal stated.

Similarly, he said the ministry will continue to implement new measures to assist low-income applicants.

Already, vulnerable groups are benefitting from the Home Construction Assistance Programme, the steel and cement initiative, as well as the Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme.  

While defending the $54.5 billion set aside for the housing sector, Minister Croal stated that the budget provides a precise blueprint for the future under the PPP/C Government.

He emphasised that the budget balances infrastructural development with modern systems for the delivery of social services, which will significantly improve the quality of life for citizens.

“The 2023 budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Housing and Water builds on the gains that the ministry has made in 2020, 2021 [and 2022],” Minister Croal told the National Assembly.

This year, $50 billion will be expended on new and existing housing areas including the construction of roads, drains, bridges, and installation of water and electricity in areas such as Mabaruma, Buxton/St Joseph, Stewartville, Hope, Wakenaam, Charity, Chateau Margot, Sophia, Belvedere, Success, Amelia’s Ward and Number 75 Village.

This will allow thousands of Guyanese to access lands allocated to them, and facilitate new allocations through the ministry’s ‘dream realised’ housing drive.

“The manifesto promise of 50,000 house lot allocations will be kept, and above all else, the people of our country will enjoy a more comfortable life,” Minister Croal said.

Major focus will also be placed on the construction of 345 low-income units set to be constructed at Great Diamond, Little Diamond and Ordinance Fortlands, 131 young professional homes at Prospect and 80 at Little Diamond, 266 moderate- income homes at Cummings Lodge, Williamsburg/Hampshire and Amelia’s Ward.