– 1,500 house lots to be delivered at two-day housing drive at Leonora
OVER $15 billion has been set aside for infrastructural development throughout the country, said Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, as he noted that in the past few months, significant investments have been made in the housing sector.
These are geared towards linking new roads to modern housing schemes with the objective of improving the lives of citizens.
The Prime Minister was, at the time, delivering the feature address at the Government’s ‘Dream Realised Housing Drive 2020’ hosted Tuesday at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora, West Coast Demerara, Region Three.
A total of 1,500 house lots are expected to be delivered at the two-day event hosted by the Ministry of Housing and Water, Central Housing and Planning Authority.
“While our Government will continue to make these investments, it is clear to us that the housing sector has the potential to drive our country’s economy and there are spin-off benefits to be reaped. For instance, the opening of new schemes in the various administrative regions will see a boom in the construction sector, and this will translate into business for suppliers and job creation for skilled workers,” the Prime Minister explained.
He said Government’s strategic plan will include engaging the private sector to work along in realising the vision for the housing sector.
“It is important that we partner with the private sector so that we can quickly achieve what we envision for the betterment of Guyanese. It requires all of us playing our part in building our nation and it is simply impossible to get where we want to be without a collective effort,” he added.
Standing-in for President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the Prime Minister said the occasion was especially dear to the President since it was in his hometown.
The Government is happy and passionate about the development and progress of all Guyanese.
“Many of you have waited a very long time for this day and I wish to congratulate all of you who will be allocated house lots today, as this marks the beginning of a new chapter in many of your lives as you work towards building your future for yourselves and families,” the Prime Minister said.
Noting that providing affordable housing is high on Government’s agenda, the Prime Minister said all the infrastructure necessary for citizens to live comfortably will be provided and this includes running water, roads and electricity.
“Just over two months ago, our Government reversed the VAT on building materials, so that alone has reduced the cost for construction by a significant percentage and will enable you to construct your homes at a reduced cost than before,” he said, while adding: “We also increased the Mortgage Interest Relief ceiling to $30M, so those of you who will be applying for loans to build will no longer face the burden of hefty interest for up to $30M. This measure which was passed in Parliament by our
Government back in October has been welcomed greatly by all, moreso young, first time home owners who are now eager and positive about their future.”
This means, he said that more money is available to build decent, high quality houses at an affordable cost.
“So, we don’t just come to you promising affordable housing without a plan for you to achieve affordable housing. We have already implemented measures from the time we assumed office to pave the way for delivering affordable housing to you,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
He underscored that plans for the Housing sector have already started to roll out with the distribution of thousands of land titles and allocation of house lots across the country.
“You would have seen that the ministers have been very active and making themselves available to you to address your concerns and needs. We have been coming back into your communities the very same way we campaigned because it is the only way we can effectively deliver to you and truly understand what your needs are,” the Prime Minister noted.
Shaneeza Yacoob, 25, of Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara, who filed an application, years ago, was among the first group of persons to receive her land from the Prime Minister. “I think this is a good initiative and I am extremely happy to own my own home, soon I will start to build,” she said.
Another recipient, Dorcel Farley of Bagotville, was also high in praise.
“I feel ecstatic about it, ever since I received the call I couldn’t stop smiling and rejoicing with my family. This is a great step for me, I think it’s a step in the right direction, because it has always been my dream to have my own property.”
Patsy Singh, 64, a mother of six, who had been waiting more than 25 years for a plot of land, was also happy to have received a lot at Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara.
Meanwhile, Housing and Water Minister, Collin Croal said Government is committed to providing housing solutions for all citizens even as the country grapples with a global pandemic and other challenges in 2020.
“We remain undaunted in our resolve to ensure that this land that belongs to all of us provides homes for all of us. I know how important it is to have your own home; this pandemic has made us reconsider the need for adequate living spaces for families and the changing approaches to education forces us to think about the needs of children too for space,” Minister Croal said.
He explained that adequate and affordable housing was a challenge but Government was committed to making homeownership affordable.
“When our Government invests in the housing sector, there is a direct positive effect on job creation in the construction sector, increased spending and a greater demand for basic goods and services. All of this results in good things for small and medium scale businesses, truckers, taxi drivers, bus operators, carpenters, painters and many others,” the Housing Minister said.
With approximately 1,500 new house lots, he said this can only contribute directly towards improved wellbeing and standard of living, as Government sets the stage for a socioeconomic drive that will increase wealth among Guyanese, starting with helping them to have their own homes.
“There are many decisions ahead that you will have to make, from deciding on the size and style of your house to the kind of materials that you will use. I’d like to remind you to make use of sustainable materials as much as possible, consider creating green spaces for you and your families to enjoy and importantly the changing needs of your loved ones. And while you make those decisions, know that your Government will stand with you to ensure that this process brings you joy rather than frustrations,” Minister Croal explained.
In just five short months since Government came into office, Minister Croal said more than $3 billion was allocated in the national budget to improve infrastructure in new and existing housing areas and to acquire lands for people to build their houses.
He added that more than $5.1 billion will be invested here in Region Three for infrastructure works within the coming year.
“We have increase the limit for Mortgage Interest Relief for low and middle-income homeowners and low-income loans, and removed VAT on building materials; this means that construction materials will be more affordable. As we have committed, we will continue to engage our partners in the private sector to ensure that prices are kept competitive and that materials are always available,” he reminded the gathering at Lenora.
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, said the home ownership policy will guide the ministry over the next five years.
“Not land allocation, but home ownership, promoting families, promotion of community life and building sustainable communities. This is our vision for the next five years. As development comes to our country, we want it to touch each and every single Guyanese across the country,” Minister Rodrigues said.
She also said that it is the Government’s aim to ensure that no one is left behind regardless of race, class, religion, political affiliation or current location.
CHPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Sherwyn Greaves, also attended the event.
Government plans to create sustainable housing and has promised to distribute at least 50,000 house lots within its first term in office.
The ‘Dream Realised’ housing drive is the brainchild of President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali. Approximately 3,500 house lots have already been distributed under this programme.