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Toppin: NHC programme botched by Gov’t

Government has “botched” its programme to help tenants living in National Housing Corporation units.

That’s the view of St. Michael North Ronald Toppin, who claimed the latest misstep was the National Housing Corporation (Transfer of Terrace Units) Act, debated by members of the House of Assembly today.

Speaking during discussion on the same legislation, the Barbados Labour Party representative said the current Government should thanks its BLP predecessor for “laying the wicket on which they could have batted on”.

“But having had a certain wicket rolled to bat on I have to say that addressing the issues that dealt with the welfare of tenants in the National Housing Corporation units over the last five years by this administration has been a botched job,” he said.

“Even this piece of legislation today is a botched job. I don’t know why people bring things to Parliament and don’t read them.

“First of all there is no natural flow to this, it is as if … a couple nights ago somebody typed this up, threw it down the road and say ‘We will debate this in Parliament come Tuesday’.

“You have absurdities like … section 3(1) ‘the National Housing Corporation may, subject subsection five’, you look for a subsection five there is no subsection five. Then in subsection three it says ‘notwithstanding subsections one and four’. You look for a subsection one there is subsection one, you look for subsection there is no subsection four.

“So again like the white paper we had before on tourism, we have before us an incomplete document, a work in progress. It is a botched job,” he added.

Toppin also urged NHC tenants to be aware that some of the provisions highlighted by Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley today, including their inability to sell their units within 10 years of getting them “free” under the transfer of units programme.

“In addition, and what tenants have to be aware of, is that not all of what they are entitled to is contained in this unfinished piece of legislation. I heard the minister say today for the first time that a tenant who buys pursuant to this legislation cannot sell under a period of 10 years, I have never heard that said before and it is not included in the legislation,” he stated..

“So obviously all of the policy issues in relation to this programme are not contained in what is before us today. So we must ask the question therefore: what else is it that the tenants will be informed of in due course by this administration because it is not all to be found in what is before us today, which is itself and incomplete botched job.”

Toppin also said the Democratic Labour Party administration was deluding itself “into believing that it has seriously addressed the housing issues facing this country”.

“It is free to do so and I would wish to commend them because I firmly believe that he who broke it should fix it,” he said.

“And really if we were to cast our minds back to the origin of the housing problems in this country we would go back to the years 1986 to 1994 when over the course of some eight [to] eight and a half years the Democratic Labour Party only found it possible to build some 53 housing units… It was confined to one single area in St. Philip.

“Having inherited a dire situation in 1994 we (the BLP) embarked on a housing programme which speaks for itself.” (SC)

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