Mar 17, 2016 News
The Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA)
warned of actions, yesterday, after accusing senior officials of refusing to provide critical information regarding transactions over several plots of housing land.
Yesterday, the Chairman, Hamilton Green, said that a number of critical issues will be dealt with by the Board in the coming days and decisions will be made.
A highly critical Green made it clear that the days of “shenanigans” and “ad hocism” in the running of the state’s housing programmes are over.
“There are a number of burning issues and indications of corrupt practices at the Authority and we are looking at not only the number of applications where persons have been waiting for years for house lots, but also what systems were used to build scores of turn-key homes. The state of those homes leaves a lot to be desired.”
The comments of the official come amidst burning questions over the lack of action from CH&PA and its officials to tackle the backlog of applications.
Evidence is coming out that the Authority failed to take steps to ensure that private developers who have been granted large parcels of lands on East Bank Demerara to build homes met deadlines and other conditions as set out in agreements that were signed.
The East Bank Demerara lands, stretching from Eccles to Golden Grove, were sold under questionable circumstances to at least 20 private developers between 2011 and 2014.
Many of the parcels, considered prime properties and worth billions of dollars at the prevailing market price, are way behind schedule with the developers already in breach of various clauses in the agreements. Very little works have been done in most of them.
According to the CH&PA’s Chairman, the entity is under increasing pressure to find lands for applicants who have been waiting years for a piece of land.
In December, CH&PA summoned the private developers to a meeting.
“This is an appalling situation that we inherited from the previous government. We gave the developers until February to complete certain works. We urged them to optimize the use of the lands. We all expressed concerns that some of these lands that were sold to private developers were sequestered or given over to others. That was never the intention.”
Green said that the Board requested senior CH&PA officials to provide the contracts and agreements signed so that decisions could be taken.
“We are still to receive the documents. Next week, we have a statutory meeting of the Board and this issue will be discussed.”
Green’s concerns would mirror that of the Land Allocation Committee, a sub-committee of the Board. Members of that committee last week complained that they are frustrated with refusal of CH&PA to furnish them, on a timely basis, with information that was requested.
The committee last week wrote the Ministry of Communities, which is charged with housing, recommending that Denise King-Tudor, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Manager of the Land Administration Division of the Authority, be sent home.
The previous Minister of Housing was Irfaan Ali.
CH&PA is handling billions of dollars annually to ensure governmental housing programmes are carried out.
It evolved into a critical agency after lands were opened up and financial institutions were allowed to drop mortgage interest rates, leading to an explosion in the construction of new homes as financing became more affordable.
Green also disclosed yesterday that he was part of a team that visited several housing projects recently.
“It is of deep concern to us the quality of turn-key homes being built, especially behind Providence. There are also questions about the hiring of certain persons and how monies were spent. From the initial assessments, it is clear that Guyana did not get value for money with those turn-key homes.”
The homes referred to by the CH&PA’s Chairman are mostly two bedroom homes. Many home owners have refused to move in citing the poor quality work. The homes were going for about $5M apiece.
Government has already said it will have to spend monies to correct the defects.
In recent years, housing developments across the nation and gold mining became two of the biggest drivers of the economy.
Housing itself with the spinoffs, created thousands of jobs for contractors, hardware suppliers, surveyors and financial institutions to the tune of billions of dollars annually.
However, the housing sector has slowed significantly as Government essentially runs out of land.
It is the same with the radio frequencies with dozens of applications not being processed and there are no useful frequencies available.
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