House approves additional $3B for housing development

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THE National Assembly yesterday approved the final financial paper for the year which saw the drawing down of $3B for development in new housing areas and improvements to existing ones, but the Opposition continued its call for the presentation of project profiles with such huge expenditures being sought.
This amount compliments a previously sought and approved supplementary provision of $3.7B in a previous session of the Parliament. During the 2010 budget, the amount of $680M was voted for the same purpose.
The amount drew the ire of some of the members of the Opposition who also wanted to know what the money was being spent on. They expressed clear dissatisfaction with the answers that Minister of Housing Irfaan Alli gave during the debate in the Committee of Supply.
The Minister told the Committee that the money is to be used to further the Government’s housing drive and he reminded them that during his budget presentation in the National Assembly, he said that while the sum of $680 million was voted, he anticipated an approach to the Ministry of Finance for additional funds in the event that the sector saw a wave of development outstripping the voted provision.
He said there are many mechanisms by which transparency and accountability can be applied to the spending of the funds.
Leader of the Opposition, Robert Corbin, asked whether a voted provision of $680M in the substantive budget and a supplementary provision for $3.7B and now adding $3B do not require an explanation to the National Assembly in the form of a project document to show how the money is being spent.
Alli said that the further provision “allows us to further satisfy the needs and aspirations of the Guyanese people.” The Minister agreed that a project profile allows the opportunity to weigh qualitative benefits of the project.
He noted that the money being sought will add to the investment that is necessary “to ensure that thousands of Guyanese realise their dream of owning their own homes.”
He said, “The $3 billion will be welcomed by Guyanese out there… every cent will be spent in the interest of the people of Guyana.”
Alli went on to list many of the places that will see housing development, especially in Linden and Region 5.