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BARBADOS - construction
- Thursday 02, September-2004 by JULIARAWLINS
HOUSING MINISTER Elizabeth Thompson silenced her critics yesterday morning by producing a two-bedroom wooden house built in seven days and costing $52 000.
Criticised for over-committing to deliver affordable houses for under $60 000, the minister put on show, on the grounds of her ministry at Country Road, St Michael, such a hard wood house, its interior carrying a trowel plastic finish. It was built by Steve Ifill, of S and B Joinery Service Inc.
Prime Minister Owen Arthur was there to turn the key and be the first to tour the fully-furnished house, proclaiming that Barbados was on the threshold of a revolution in housing, and praising the minister for responding to the most critical need of working Barbadians today.
Labelling the initiative as “fantastic work”, Arthur said Government could not be accused of not wanting to provide concessions to the private sector to construct such homes.
Noting that housing was the most challenging ministry, he said there were concessions available for persons or entities involved in low income housing in the Greater Bridgetown area under the Special Development Act.
“We are still waiting for people from the private sector to come forward and break the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
Using September 1 as the date to launch the first phase of the National Housing Corporation’s (NHC) new thrust, Thompson promised that on the first of every month for the remainder of the year, she would unveil a new aspect of Government’s programme.
These include the unveiling on November 1 of model one - and three-bedroom timber houses; and on December 1, a three-bedroom model wall house at Westbury Road, St Michael.
“The corporation’s efforts over the next three to five years will be to embark on its most ambitious housing programme to date,” she said, “and bring affordable housing to many Barbadians who eagerly wish to own a piece of the rock, but who up to now have not been able to afford the current market prices.”
All the houses will have full prior Town and Country Planning permission for extensions including the building of garages, and will be automatically insured. Two banks have committed $75 million for loans to qualified applicants.
In addition, the NHC has decided to build on the Barbadian culture of co-operative weekend volunteer house building. It has created a programme to provide pre-fabricated houses for persons who can prove that they have free labour to assemble them. Certain conditions apply for the release of funds.
The minister promised to transform the housing market.
“Gardeners, maids, NCC rangers, people who work in stores and junior journalists will all qualify to own their homes from today,” she declared.
She added that the houses would be of high quality and low cost and in most cases would not require a mortgage of more than $300 a month.
“That is affordable,” Thompson said.
She added that she would not be saying anything to the present people on the market.
“I am talking to the people who want houses. You want houses at a reasonable price, we have got house and land at the best prices anywhere on the market,” she stated.
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