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Senator Forde accuses NDP of failing Vincentians

Senator Forde accuses NDP of failing Vincentians

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by Samantha Campbell 03.APR.09

The Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has been accused of failing to do anything for Housing in the 17 years they were in power.{{more}}

The accusation was made by Government Senator Rochelle Forde as she tabled a motion on Thursday, March 26, urging Parliament to support the current administration’s Housing policy.

The Unity Labour Party (ULP) Senator contended that because of her government’s initiatives, all Vincentians were now assured of housing.

She criticised the NDP’s handling of the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC), saying it was poorly managed and its efficiency was disrupted by “political interference”.

Forde said the ULP government has revived the HLDC by employing a young staff and rectifying problems faced under NDP. She further stated that the ULP government spent in excess of EC$8 million trying to address problems arising from the Colonial Homes Project at Diamond and the land slippage at Gibson Corner. Here, Forde accused Leader of the Opposition, NDP, Arnhim Eustace, the then Minister of Finance, of knowing in advance that lands at Gibson Corner were unstable and unsuitable for housing development, an accusation quickly denied by the Opposition Leader.

Of the low income housing drive, Forde boasted that her government had provided almost 400 houses for Vincentians. She said of the 409 houses built in the past 6 years, 398 were low income houses – a figure which works out to 66 houses each year. The houses, located in Petit Bordel, Sans Souci, Clare Valley, Peter’s Hope, Ottley Hall, Green Hill, Diamond, Brighton and Colonarie, form part of a larger scheme to build up to 1000 low income houses across the country.

She claimed that as at February 2009, a total of 2,400 applications had been made for low income houses.

The government senator dismissed claims that the newly built houses were inadequately spaced and uncomfortable, saying houses were built to exacting standards.

“Hats off to the ULP in the area of Housing,” she said, “…We are proud of our houses.”

Plans are also said to be in the works to build 300 ‘No Income’ houses with the assistance of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for persons on a monthly income of $750 or less. Forde contended that though these houses would be smaller than their Low Income counterparts, they would still be built “with the same care and efficiency” as their predecessors.

Forde further mentioned the expansion of the Middle Income Housing plan at Clare Valley in which 11 homes have already been built and a further 30 were on tap. Almost 250 applications regarding these homes have also been made, she revealed.

In her one-hour proposal, Senator Forde also criticised the NDP’s efforts to improve Literacy among Vincentians.

She said while the ULP government continues to look for ways to educate Vincentians, such as providing for training and certification of persons in the housing and construction fields through the Heart Trust of Jamaica, and developing related subject options at the country’s Technical College, figures show the NDP provided assistance for tertiary education in these areas for only five persons.

Forde further listed ULP initiatives of providing 100 per cent mortgage financing for all public servants, sourcing quality lower priced material for building houses from Cuba and Mexico and SVG’s coordinated approach to the construction sector as further examples of their commitment to an improved Housing policy for all Vincentians.

The Senator challenged members of the House to find a similar initiative being done elsewhere in the Caribbean. The young attorney claims that the ULP’s Housing policy has been so successful that it has spawned copy-cat policies across the region, with some countries even commissioning teams to understudy the Vincentian model.

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