–Housing Minister says allocations will proceed once lands aren’t disputed
By Navendra Seoraj
THE Ministry of Housing and Water had put a hold on accepting payments for some lands which were distributed prior to August 2020, but Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, has said that the ministry, after careful consideration and analysis has given the “green light” for allottees to make or complete payments for land allocated to them.
The ministry, in August, had put a hold on receiving payments for lands, following complaints by allottees that they feel duped out of their earnings for lands they were still to identify. It was reported that initial checks into those allocations revealed that some of the lands were not owned by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), and, in some cases, did not have proper infrastructure in place for housing.
A review of those allocations was completed, and, according to Minister Croal, some of the underlying issues were addressed, so persons are free to make and complete payments.
Lands which were allocated by the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government during the early part of this year, were owned either by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) or the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
“We had to do a review of what was happening. We had to assess in terms of where allocations were done, what lands we may need, what we may need to look at and those type of things…we had a hold on payments for some areas, but there is no hold-up on payments.
“They can complete payments. In fact, it has been so for a while and for areas where we have no issues with for which allocations were done, that continues,” Minister Croal told the Sunday Chronicle.
Access to adequate housing is viewed as a basic human right and is considered to be an integral factor for the enjoyment of other economic, social and cultural rights. And, with Guyana’s economy poised to quadruple in the coming years, the government will be moving to ensure that its people, especially from the low and middle-income brackets, have access to adequate housing.
Housing units will eventually be constructed across all administrative regions, and authorities are already working to identify and acquire lands for this purpose. The ministry of housing and water continues to engage NICIL, GL&SC and GuySuCo on the acquisition of land.
“As we get more clearance, we will continue allocations… this is an ongoing process based on the availability of land, as well as infrastructure works,” Minister Croal said.
The ministry has so far made allocations of land in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
For Region Three, 1,500 allocations were made for lands in five areas including Cornelia Ida, Anna Catherina, Edingburg, Meten-Meer-Zorg, and Stewartville.
In Region Four, persons secured land in Bladen Hall, Vigilance, Strathspey, Annandale, LBI, Cummings Lodge, and Great Diamond and Little Diamond; and in Region Six, over 300 allocations were made for land in Number 75 Village, 79 Village, Ordinance-Fortlands, Hampshire and Williamsburg.
In their 2020 elections manifesto, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had committed to distributing some 50,000 house lots within their first five years in office, disaggregating this into 10,000 house lots per year.
“I am happy to report we achieved 3,600 allocations; we had set a target actually of 3,000 for our first four months for 2020, so that we can do 7,000 next year, so that we can meet our 10,000 target. So, I am very pleased to report that we have surpassed that target by allocating 3,600 for 2020,” Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water Susan Rodrigues said recently.
Rodrigues reiterated the government’s commitment to keeping their manifesto promise, with the ministry categorising applicants, and giving priority to persons who have been waiting for a long time.
Minister Croal has said that with approximately 70,000 applications for housing in the CH&PA’s system, the ministry is actively looking at ways of addressing the backlog, even as the number of applications continues to grow with new applicants daily.
It was reported that the ministry is seeking U.S.$250 million (approximately G$52.5 billion) in financing to support its housing-development plans for the next five years.