No evidence to prove Housing Ministry has placed ‘financial constraints’ on citizens – Croal tells National Assembly

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Over the past three and a half years, the government undertook various housing and financial initiatives, providing significant relief to thousands of Guyanese striving to become homeowners.

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal emphasised the comprehensive nature of the government’s housing drive, covering development including road construction, bridges, water distribution, electrical networks, and land preparation in both new and existing housing areas.

He was at the time responding to a motion proposed by the opposition during the 81st Sitting of the National Assembly at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Liliendaal Thursday evening.

Presented by Opposition Member of Parliament, Annette Ferguson, the motion called for the establishment of a Special Select Committee to review charges for house lots for Guyanese.

But Minister Croal challenged the appeal, noting a lack of evidence supporting the assertion that his ministry’s policies were responsible for the financial constraints mentioned.

“The motion makes several claims and then it sets blame on the ministry’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) without providing any evidence that any policy, on our part, is responsible for ‘financial constraints’ that the honourable member claims. This motion begins in vague speculation and then crashes to an illogical conclusion that is mind-boggling. There is specificity in the motion,” he explained.

Detailing the government’s housing programme, the minister disclosed that Land prices are heavily subsidised by the government, and are determined based on size, infrastructure, and market prices.

Additionally, the government’s partnership with local banking institutions has facilitated better access to loans for home construction, with significantly reduced interest rates.

In 2020, interest rates stood at four per cent, 5.95 per cent, and 6.25 per cent.

Following government intervention, these rates were significantly reduced to 3.5 per cent, in some instances, to as low as 3.2 per cent, 3.75 per cent, and 5.7 per cent.

For example, the New Building Society (NBS) processed 669 loan applications and disbursed $3.5 billion in loans in 2020.

By 2023, the NBS experienced a remarkable surge, receiving over 2,500 applications and disbursing $19 billion—a staggering 274 per cent increase in applicants and 443 per cent increase in loan disbursements over the past three years.

Previously, applicants were required to provide cash equity for loans, but this requirement has been revised, allowing applicants to utilise their lands as collateral for loans.

Furthermore, the government has introduced measures such as the steel and cement subsidy programme, which has accelerated home construction for over a thousand Guyanese across various regions.

“That is the power of this PPP/C Government. We care about the people and we have considered the constraints they might face. We did not bring a motion to parliament or ask a select committee. We knew what we had to do,” he told the National Assembly.

Similarly, many families have benefited from the government’s mortgage relief interest initiative.

Over the past three years, the government has disbursed over $2.5 billion in refunds to more than 15,000 families across all income brackets who hold mortgages for their homes.

In addition to the ministry’s land allocation efforts, significant strides are being made in nationwide house construction, with contracts being finalised for the construction of 3,607 houses.

From 2015 to 2020, the APNU+AFC Administration only developed three housing schemes in areas such as Peter’s Hall, Prospect Track ‘E’, and Providence.

In contrast, the PPP/C Government developed over 50 housing schemes in just three and a half years.

To date, over 33,000 house lots have been allocated nationwide, prioritising applicants from 2019 and prior, while only 7,534 lots were allocated under the previous administration. [DPI]

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