Previous Gov’t’s housing programme too ambitious – Bulkan

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The previous administration’s housing programme was poorly configured and overly ambitious, Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan said. The Communities Minister was at the time speaking during on an edition of the programme, “Budget in Focus’ aired on the National Communications Network (NCN.)

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan on the “Budget In Focus” programme  on the National Communications Network (NCN,) with moderator Wanita Huburn

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan on the “Budget In Focus” programme on the National Communications Network (NCN,) with moderator Wanita Huburn

“The housing programme that we inherited was an overly ambitious one. It sought to provide what is called serviced house lots to practically anyone so desirous. It was much too ambitious, and when we look at the figures over the last 20 years, a total of approximately 66,000 house lots were developed but currently over 28000 of those house lots are unoccupied. So there is a non-occupancy rate of 45 percent. Which is quite high,” the Minister said.

Minister Bulkan said the situation became worse in the run-up to the General and Regional Elections of May 2015. “If we look at the period immediately preceding this administration, which is the life of the tenth parliament, it becomes even more alarming. Those figures show that 38 of the schemes were developed in the period 2011 to 2015, yielding a little over 20,000 house lots, of which, less than 4000 have resulted in houses being constructed. So the rate of un-occupancy was over 80 percent,” the Minister said.

Bulkan explained that approximately $13 Billion was spent in those 38 areas, and according to an estimate done, to complete the infrastructure in those areas, a further $16 Billion will be required, “Resources that the Central Government does not have.” Further, he said that, there is no guarantee also that the $16 Billion, if it could be found, would impact dramatically or significantly on the construction, as well as the occupancy of those 38 areas.

“The reality of the situation is that there is a low level of disposable income so we have on one hand over 28000 house lots that are available for construction or in the three years prior to this administration, 16,000 house lots which are still unoccupied. It speaks to the inability of persons to secure a mortgage,” the Minister pointed out.

Minister Bulkan said that under the new Government, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) is moving back to its legislative mandate, which is to provide accessible and affordable housing for low income persons. The new Government has also added the provision of housing for state employees to the agency’s mandate.

“The initiatives that are now being taken by the Central Government and CH&PA are to utilise a significant portion of this $8 Billion; approximately $5Billion to be exact to construct housing units (duplexes, condominiums and town houses) in our coastal regions,” he said.

The Minister said that the units would be constructed in locations such as Charity and Onderneeming in Region Two, Stewartville in Region Three, Perseverance and Kuru Kuru in Region Four, Experiment in Region Five, Fort Ordnance and New Amsterdam, in Region Six and Bartica in Region Seven.

The state is going to build these units. It is estimated that 1000 of these configurations would be built in affordable terms. The Minister said that this would allow for first time low income persons to be able to afford and occupy these units.

Further, Minister Bulkan said that  Central Government has identified medium density, three – storey condominiums in three locations; East La Penitence, Great and Little Diamond and Cummings Lodge to construct approximately 3,360 low income units for a sum of approximately US$135Million.  The Minister explained that Cabinet at a sub-committee decided that, “this administration, we want to build 10,000 housing unit in the next five years, so the 1000 homes  duplexes and condominiums is an immediate activity  for which the funding is available.”

He said, “We are now trying to see how that $135 Million would be realised to allow for 3360 units in the condominiums.”



By Macalia Santos