Minister Adams-Patterson says Budget will make lives better, not bitter

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Adams-Patterson said that Budget 2017 has a plan that will take Guyana forward and whatever is contained will make lives better not bitter.

The Minister, who rose in support of the $250B, 2017 Budget in the National Assembly, today, during day two of the debates, said that she has no hesitation in supporting the Budget as presented by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, particularly as it provides for the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to embrace a new strategic direction of “creating livable and wholesome communities for all Guyanese.”

The Minister who told the House that the “days of selective allocation of house lots” and individuals inability to start construction are over, said that the low income earners and state workers were overlooked in the previous administration’s selective housing policy.

Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Adams-Patterson during her presentation in support of Budget 2017

Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Adams-Patterson during her presentation in support of Budget 2017

She said that the previous administration did not design a housing policy that catered for affordability for the low income and state workers, many of who, though they might have benefitted from a house lot, had problems accessing the mortgages needed to start construction on their homes.

The Minister however, noted that the 2017 budget proposals cater for the CH&PA to address these issues by improving the housing delivery system through pursuing a range of development initiatives. These include the construction of various housing solutions for low income households through partnership with the private sector and civil society organisations, and through the implementation of an integrated and comprehensive approach in the planning and design of settlements and the regularisation of squatting areas.

Further, the Minister explained that these proposals, form part of the Government’s broader medium-term strategy which was presented to the Delegation of the Islamic Development Bank.  She said that strategy articulated a multi-pronged approach to ensure inclusivity, and it proposes the following components; the supply of 10,000 housing units to eligible Guyanese (2016-2021), expansion of the current hinterland housing programme to other indigenous communities and households, implementation of an Urban Renewal programme in the capital in the form of relocation, and resettlement of squatters to facilitate the restoration of previously occupied sites.

And, with respect to new communities, these will offer a range of housing solutions. Minister Adams-Patterson said rent-to-own apartments; two-bedroom and three-bedroom houses cater for the needs of low/moderate income persons.  She also noted that the construction of wooden houses is part of the strategy in keeping with the Government’s plan of pursing the path of a ‘green economy’ and boosting the local materials industry.

The CH&PA is expected to access its own funds to undertake this ambitious programme in 2017, which totals in excess of $8B.  Minister Adams- Patterson explained that of this total, $2.3B will be spent on 2016 roll-over projects (ongoing infrastructure works) in Regions 3, 4, 5, and 6. She explained that another $471.3M covers the electrical programme for 16 existing schemes requiring electricity in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,  and 7; $100.0M for the Hinterland Project  in Regions 1 and 9; $2,5B for the consolidation of existing housing schemes to conduct feasibility study of existing housing schemes prior to intervention. Upgrading of roads, drains and structures in low income, regularised squatting areas and other planned housing areas, in Regions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 are also catered for.

Minister Patterson said that $1.6B will cover new infrastructure development and housing pilot for the 1st phase of infrastructural development works and Housing pilots (town houses and single flat houses), in Regions 3 and 4.

A further, $13M will provide for the hosting of a Housing Solutions where approximately 25 housing developers will each put on an exhibition at an identified location for model houses which would encourage public participation in the building process, in Region 4 and subsequently other regions.

The sum of $31M will go to the strengthening of CH&PA’s Planning Function for public awareness on Planning and Stakeholder coordination through National Planning Forum, Formulation of Development Plans, Community Development Projects, and Contractors’ Training Forum, Minister Adams- Patterson said.

Meanwhile, $120M will cover installation/construction/upgrading of social facilities in planned housing areas, $30M for policy review and action leading to the development of a computerised beneficiary selection criteria/model, housing policy document, squatter regularisation and relocation plan (all regions), $85M for institutional strengthening and operations to provide professional development, in-house training, and professional exchange.

The sum of $669.5M will cover the current expenditure, administrative, salaries, fuel, and MIS upgrade, Minister Patterson said.

By Macalia Santos