“We are not where we want to be, but we surely are not where we used to be” – Housing Minister

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, December 4, 2017

Minister within the Ministry of Communities with responsibility for housing, Valerie Adams Patterson Yearwood says that not only is the government’s goal to provide a “good life” to all Guyanese achievable, but that she is confident that the administration is on the path to achieving it.

“We started this journey and we will continue this journey until the good life is delivered to every Guyanese then we will start a new journey to the better life,” Minister Adams Patterson-Yearwood said early this afternoon, in defense of Budget 2018 in the National Assembly.

Valerie Adams Patterson-Yearwood, Minister within the Ministry of Communities with responsibility for housing.

“The eye only sees what the mind is prepared to comprehend,” the Minister said, attacking, earlier statements made in the House, by Opposition Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali, who during his Budget presentation shouted continuously about the “slippages, slippages, slippages in the Guyana economy.”

Defending of the achievements of the coalition government since assuming office in May 2015, Minister Adams Patterson-Yearwood said, “We are not where we want to be, but we surely are not where we used to be.”

Noting that “the journey must continue,” the Minister boldly declared, “We can’t stop now.  The Minister of Finance has provided us with a workable plan that will ensure that the journey we have started, must and will continue.”

Commending Budget 2018 to house for passage, she outlined the developments in the housing sector achieved since 2015, that the administration will in 2018 seek to build on. These include the government’s quest to thoroughly wipe out the illegal occupation of state lands across Guyana.

Minister Adams Patterson-Yearwood noted that towards this drive the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) through the Ministry of Communities has established an Anti-Squatting Task Force.

Addressing the National Assembly, Minister Adams Patterson-Yearwood said she needed to reiterate the illegality of squatting, continuing that it is something the current government is working vigorously to eliminate.

“To combat this, we have decided on a menu of measures which were recommended by the community Leaders themselves resulting in a Joint Anti-Squatting Taskforce being formed with other major stakeholders such as GPL, GWI, GPF, EPA, M&CC among others,” she told the National Assembly.

According to the Minister responsible for housing, while some persons squat out of desperation, others do it as a means of economic gain.

“This latter group will go and occupy a parcel of land; erect a structure and then rent it, in some instances, for as much as $30,000 per month.  Obviously, these “landlords” must have other living options that they occupy.  Another vexing dimension to this situation is that some of the squatters are in receipt of house lots,” she told the house.

She said currently, discussions are ongoing regarding the development of approximately 1,148 lots at Plantations Cummings Lodge, Georgetown and Industry, East Coast Demerara (ECD), for the possible relocation of squatters from Constituencies 5 and 6 Reserves, as well as from other zero tolerance areas in Georgetown and its environs.  This intervention, she said, requires an estimated investment of approximately G$2.65 billion for infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, Minister Adams Patterson-Yearwood said for the reporting period, some 405 house lots were formally allocated to squatters after payments were made. 190 persons paid at least 50 percent of the cost of their lots and signed to commence processing for their titles, while 290 titles were already issued to persons in areas under regularisation.

In Mt. Sinai Agony’s Avenue in Region six, to date, 690) householders were interviewed while 661 were issued letters. Verification exercises were completed for 246 householders.

At Middle Road La Penitence, Georgetown, 104 householders interviewed. The project, according to the Minister, will be continued in 2018.

As part of the regularisation process, a field verification exercise was conducted in Timehri North, East Bank Demerara (EBD), 380 buildings were numbered and 316 have been interviewed so far. A block and occupation survey are currently in progress by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to facilitate the regularisation process and same will continue in 2018.

At Crane/Best Villages West Coast Demerara (WCD), the CH&PA concluded a field exercise and found that 83 lots were occupied. 77 lots were verified for allocation and the occupiers were issued with letters.

“Mr. Speaker, I don’t know that I can adequately convey to this House the expression of joy on the faces of those persons when they realised that they were one step closer to becoming home-owners.  But the expression was priceless. As in the case of the other areas, this exercise will be continued, as we continue this journey,” the minister said.

Further, the CHPA has partnered with Food for the Poor (Guyana) Incorporated to build houses for 72 under-privileged families/households (approximately 360 beneficiaries) of Lots 17 and 18 Broad and Lombard Streets, Georgetown, Barnwell and Mocha/Arcadia among others, the Minister reported.

The CH&PA has also partnered with a number of ministries and agencies to sensitise stakeholders on the intended relocation exercise; to discuss collaboration, to promote appreciation for diversity and encourage networking for the building of a cohesive community.

The department held meetings with some of the intended beneficiaries, the Mocha/Arcadia NDC & community, The M&CC, Ministries of Education, Social Cohesion, Social Protection & Public Security. Civil Society Organizations, including: Child Link, Youth Challenge Guyana and Help & Shelter.

“All to give a good life to our citizens,” Minister Adams Patterson-Yearwood told the National Assembly.

 

By: Alexis Rodney

 

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