Unit transfers ‘not clear-cut’

Senator Santia Bradshaw

Government’s “rush” to pass new laws facilitating the transfer of ownership of National Housing Corporation units to longstanding tenants is simply an attempt to gain votes in the upcoming general election.

But in doing so, Barbados Labour Party Senator Santia Bradshaw asserted today, the current administration has presented “inadequate” legislation that will leave the beneficiaries with several difficulties.

She was speaking in the Upper House today while leading the Opposition’s response in debate on the National Housing Corporation (Transfer of Terrace Units) Bill, 2013.

This legislation, which was approved in the Lower House on Tuesday, is to allow the transfer of NHC units, including those with extensions, to people who have rented them for 20 years or more.

Bradshaw, who is an attorney-at-law, said as far as the transfer bill was concerned she and other senators were being asked to “settle for mediocrity”.

“I am in agreement with legislation that seeks to empower our people, … but what I take objection to is an attempt by an administration to simply bring a piece of legislation, which in effect does not address a number of the pressing issues that are faced by a number of the individuals who reside in these particular units,” she said.

“Simply by the passage of this legislation they [NHC tenants] will not own their title deeds and have the issues that they have been complaining about addressed.”

She said while people were excited about the opportunity to own units they had rented for 20 years, they should be told that it would not be as straightforward as they thought.

“It is not simply enough to possess the title deed when water, when the rain falls, ends up coming into their premises and soaking their furniture and affecting the circumstances in which they live. And when they turn to the National Housing Corporation to make good some of the things that are happening on their premises these elderly persons from time to time are told by some of the officers of the National Housing Corporation ‘We have no money, the Government has no money’,” she said.

“I believe that we have to be fair in bringing this legislation that we don’t just simply pass this piece of legislation today, but then there are issues and concerns that have not been properly articulated or addressed, after this legislation has been passed.

“You have situations where persons have no back doors to their premises and therefore if we are to be talking about empowering people, and raising the standard of living for the average Barbadian, we now need to engage in a serious discussion about what the costs are to remedy some of these issues for some of these same individuals,” Bradshaw added.

She noted, too, that a number of the units were constructed for rental and might not be suitable for ownership by individuals.

Bradshaw said rather than dealing with such concerns, Government was “scrambling to ensure that it is able to bring before the public of Barbados in the course of the coming weeks … a report card on what it has done over the course of the past five years”. (SC)

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