By L.K. Hewlett
St. Kitts Reporter
Minister of Housing Hon. Cedric Liburd has said that construction is the number one indicator that the economy is doing well.
“People are now interested in investing. What you see happening now is that young people are saying that they want their own home and that is very good. Whether it’s NHC or Development Bank, we are now trying to find the money to help those persons obtain their own homes. We see this as empowering our young people in St. Kitts and Nevis. A home is not an asset that will depreciate, over time it will increase in terms of value. We are really pleased that our young people and also the business community have come onboard with us in our housing solutions,” Liburd said.
He noted that there were over three thousand applications for housing filed at the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and they figured that the townhouses would help to alleviate some of the demand.
He told The Observer that housing was one of the critical areas that his government had said that they would be focusing on after they were elected to office. He said that investors outside of the country were able to pick up the Labour party’s 1995 and 2000 manifestos they recognised that construction was a key area that would be focused on. The minister commended the private sector companies including TDC and CLICO that had become involved in housing initiatives.
“CLICO has come on-stream and they are an insurance company. They have agencies in most of the Caribbean islands. They have already built fifty homes at Douglas Estate, St. Peters and they have up to two hundred and seventy-three lots. They have indicated earlier this year that they are going to change the drawings for the next set of houses and will be starting them as soon as possible. We have made some land available to the St. Kitts Credit Union and they have agreed to build some homes their members. We hope to be looking at that housing project soon,” he said.
Liburd said that his ministry had been mandated by Cabinet to look at three proposed housing projects, the first being the NEMA starter houses or ‘half-a-hog-head’ houses. He explained that the government was now looking towards completing those homes that the owners had not been able to make additions to.
“We have since reviewed those houses and we have agreed that it is time to add the other half to those starter homes. There are approximately four hundred and fifty eight of those houses across St. Kitts and we have sent persons to interview the owners to see how many are ready for us to start the additions. The project will cost approximately EC $500, 000,” he noted.
The minister disclosed that financing for some of the housing projects had come from the Venezuelan Government to the tune of $10 million US dollars. He said as part of the second housing project, they would be providing housing to former sugar workers, approximately three hundred persons. That he said, was the last commitment that his ministry had to the former sugar workers as they had already met all of the other obligations that they had committed themselves to. He said this project would be executed throughout St. Kitts and they would decide whether to start new project areas or fit the houses into existing project communities.