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CONSTRUCTION MAGNATE Sir Charles Williams has disputed claims his company’s business practices have contributed to driving the price of home building “sky high”.
He made the denial yesterday on the popular radio talk show, Brass Tacks, on Starcom Network Inc.
Responding to suggestions that he was a “land shark”, the property developer said: “I have a breakdown which was done by my brother and our staff which will demonstrate to you that Government is the major beneficiary in housing development projects.
“My group of companies bought ten acres of land at $2 a sq. ft. and developed it, but an analysis of the project will show that at the end of the day the profits to the developer are $380 295 and the taxes to Government are $795 904.
“I am prepared to publish this information in the local Press so that everyone can see it.
“I cannot advise Government, but I would suggest that low-cost housing seems to be the “hot issue” today. I think if Government could create a situation where low-cost housing benefits from the concessions given to Special Development Projects areas such as St Lawrence Gap, Speightstown and the Pier Head, the problem can be addressed.
“I have just proven to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that however you examine the ten-acre project discussed earlier, Government’s coffers raked in $2.10 per sq. ft. in taxes, while the developer earned $1 in profit per sq. ft.”, Sir Charles added.
Meanwhile, his brother, Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, chief executive officer of Williams Industries, said that if Government hoped to seriously address the problem of low-cost housing it would have to introduce a plan similar to the reconstruction plan in Europe after World War II.
“Government has the answer in its hands,” he said. “In my opinion, Government needs to release a certain amount of agricultural land for the development of low-cost housing.
“The land would be released on one condition: that the land be sold to the developer for not more than 75 cents to $1 per sq. ft. That would equate to approximately $32 000 an acre. Many estates were bought and sold for between $3 000 and $10 000 an acre. This is a handsome profit for the landowner.
“When you apply that scenario to the development, you can bring the price of the finished land down by about $3 a sq. ft.”
He argued that if Government were serious about providing low-cost housing under the Special Development Act, it would cut tax across the board on development of land by 50 per cent thereby reducing the price of the land by a further $1.10 per sq ft.
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