GEORGETOWN, Guyana –October 16th, 2020–President Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Friday reiterated that the Government’s housing program is designed to bring direct benefits to the lives of all Guyanese.
As such, he assured that Government will continue to embrace a program with the private sector, to create an enabling environment with the right set of incentives to ensure affordability.
“That is the area of focus, affordability, and all of this leads to national dignity, when people have a strong belief in themselves. There is nothing more empowering than owning our own home. When you are very young, you always dream of turning your own keys.”
The Head of State was at the time addressing scores of beneficiaries during the Ministry of Housing and Water’s title distribution exercise at the National Stadium, where he pointed to the importance of partnerships with the Private Sector in realizing the government’s overall vision for the housing program.
“In achieving this we have to create partnerships. The Minister spoke about this extensively, but our partners must also come into the program; understanding that they have a social responsibility. So the partnership cannot be driven exclusively on profit margin; and I’m happy the partners are here,” President Ali said.
He also outlined plans for critical linkages between housing areas, which would bridge commute time.
“We want to create a network of infrastructure that leads us to main growth areas, not more than 25 minutes. So you will see all the transformation infrastructure that I’m talking about linked to this overarching plan. In achieving this we have to create partnerships.”
The President also spoke of other critical projects, which will open up new opportunities and new lands to create growth and prosperity; these projects include the new Demerara Harbour Bridge and the Corentyne River Bridge.
Both projects, the Head of State outlined, will present extraordinary opportunities for farmers to expand production and enter into a new market. It will also provide opportunities for commercial activity and for the services sector, but more importantly, according to the Head of State, they will contribute to the development of new settlements that will be linked to job creation and economic expansion.
President Ali encouraged those gathered to embrace the many opportunities that will be created through the establishment of new housing developments.
“One of the great difficulties we have is that when you offer somebody Parfaite Harmonie, they say no, I want to stay on the East Bank or East Coast, or I want to stay next to my parents, or I want to live next to my brother or all five of my cousins. You will have the connectivity to get to your parents quickly, the infrastructure will be there, do not lose your opportunity.”
He reminded the audience of the successes of the previous housing programs under the PPP/C government, including the Young Professional Housing Scheme, which improved the lives of thousands of Guyanese.
When we started the young professionals scheme, we sold those homes for $13M… today, the value of those homes are now $35M-$40M. When we started the 1000 Home Project, I remember a political commentator at that time saying that we are taking the lower income people to the back, little did that political commentator know in the long-term vision that was the front because that is where the four-lane road will go. And what we did for those low-income earners is to give them an asset value that they can go to the bank and get five times the value for the infrastructure investment there. That is visionary, that is transformative, that is empowering, that is what breaks the cycle of poverty.”
Engaging the Diaspora
President Ali also pointed to the importance of engaging the diaspora in the development of the country’s housing sector, particularly through the provision of financial resources.
“We have examined ways in which our diaspora can be associated with housing development through home ownership as re-migrants and also through providing financial resources. There is great potential in creating a diaspora fund that can be utilized in a sector like the housing sector, and this is also under consideration at the moment.”
He said too that the Government will also be addressing the housing needs of re-migrants coming from Venezuela, which is another important target group.
Hinterland Housing and development
With regards to addressing the housing needs in hinterland areas, President Ali pointed to the importance of providing subsidized housing which in turn, will have far reaching impacts on community development.
“For the hinterland, our focus has to be on subsidized housing. This is not only about creating homes, but it has to be linked to job creation, better services in terms of power and water, and community life.”
The President then announced that by January next year, the Government will be moving to start the installation of 1000 solar units in hinterland communities, as part of their drive to improve service levels.
Access to Capital
The Head of State noted too that while there are plans to expand the housing program to even greater heights, access to private capital is integral to the process.
“In achieving all of this, one may ask you a very important question. Where is the capital coming from? I’ve already identified one source, but we have recently launched an ad in the newspaper to raise US$250 million for the housing sector. And we invited individuals or agencies to submit term sheets. I must tell you the response has been nothing but overwhelming. We have already engaged at the bilateral, multilateral and regional level, many agencies, every single Head of State I spoke to so far, I’ve outlined housing as a top priority and asked that financing of the housing program be taken into consideration of their development fund. In my most recent conversation with the Emir of Qatar, I requested of him to look at housing from the Qatari Development Fund.”
All Guyanese to benefit
President Ali assured that all Guyanese stand to benefit from his government’s housing program and encouraged citizens to embrace the bright future ahead with confidence.
He said that among the target groups are young professionals, nurses, the joint services, clerical workers, teachers and religious stakeholders.
My dream for Guyana
Under the President Ali administration, affordable housing would be realized in keeping with its manifesto commitments.
“These are the initiatives that we believe will not only rekindle hope, but will bring our country together. My greatest passion, my greatest vision is to see us all live united, for us to see each other as Guyanese, for us to love each other as Guyanese, for us to protect each other as Guyanese that is my greatest dream for Guyana.”
He also announced that the Ministry has plans to “break ground” for the first 5,000 homes shortly.
Close to 350 titles will be distributed over the next two days during the Ministry of Housing and Water’s distribution exercise.
Both the Minister of Housing and Water, the Hon. Collin Croal and the Minister within the Ministry, the Hon. Susan Rodrigues also addressed the beneficiaries and outlined their plans for the sector.