Opposition MP raising questions regarding housing
Wed, 03/16/2016 - 12:00am
An Opposition Member of Parliament is calling for updates on several Government housing initiatives, including the Housing Every Last Person (HELP) Programme.
Member of Parliament for the City of Bridgetown, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic made the request in the Lower House yesterday morning during the second day of the debate on the Appropriation Bill. Bostic, the Shadow Minister of Housing and Lands referring to the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2016-2017, lamented that very little is provided in that document by way of explanatory notes under the head for the Housing Ministry.
“There was a time when the housing achievements of the Government were touted as the flagship for the Government’s flotilla of achievements and that was before the last elections, and with some justification because the flagship stood out above the other vessels in the flotilla, especially in an environment where there were choppy seas, where the weather was bad. But I realise Mr. Speaker that the flagship seems to be experiencing some difficulty, and I realise that because I have not been able to find out in anyway what is happening in the Ministry of Housing and the National Housing Corporation,” he said.
Lt. Col. Bostic raised the question of the HELP Programme, contending that noting in the Estimates spoke to it, nor did the Minister of Housing address the issue when he spoke in the Lower House on Monday.
“I am of the opinion that the HELP Programme as I have said before, has now and continues to be, Houses Empty, Lacking People. I will continue to say that Mr. Speaker until the Honourable Minister with responsibility for Housing comes to this House, and whenever he speaks, give an update not only to this Chamber, but the people of Barbados, because we deserve an update on these matters. What has become Mr. Speaker of the HEART Programme – Houses Everyone a [Affordable] Realistic Target? Nothing at all, I don’t know, because the information is not available… I am beginning to think that the HEART Programme is now a victim of cardiac arrest,” he lamented.
Turning his attention to the housing estates, Bostic said given the current economic environment it would be unrealistic to expect the NHC to be engaged in building a large number of houses, and as such, he is adamant that they should focus on reshaping policy. With that in mind, he suggested that now is perhaps the time to concentrate more on maintaining the current housing estates.
“We have maintenance issues, but the allocations that have been made within the Estimates of Expenditure, do not tell me anything in terms of what it is that those who are at the depots at Deacons, Eden Lodge, Gall Hill, Grazettes, Haynesville, Pinelands and Wildey, what it is they are doing. There are housing estates Mr. Speaker that have not had any maintenance in the past five years – there are housing estates that have plumbing issues, poor lighting along roadways and walkways, structural issues, safety issues, termites, leaking water and certainly electrical issues. Some of the estates require some significant electrical work,” he said. (JRT)