Government to invest $3.6B in housing sector this year

Government will invest $3.6 billion in the housing sector this year and has also allocated $2 billion to improve the quality of water supply.

The $3.6 billion for housing will be used to increase access to affordable housing, improve the quality of infrastructure of housing schemes and regularise squatter settlements, Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh said in his budget presentation on Friday. He said that government will seek to allocate 30,000 new house lots by 2015, increase access to low cost financing for home construction, examine ways of improving occupancy rates in new housing areas, develop resettlement plans, regularise squatting areas and facilitate easier access to house lots and home financing .

Last year, $3.3 billion was spent on the housing sector of which $700 million was spent on improving the road network and water distribution system in Plantation Zeelugt, Leonora, Mahdia and Culvert City benefiting over 1,500 households.  Also, 25 core houses were completed and another 59 commenced. Further, some 8,981 house lots were allocated and 7,325 land titles were distributed while in excess of 1,000 persons accessed low interest financing valued at over $5.6 billion, the minister said.

This year, Singh said, 6500 house lots will be allocated and 4,000 land titles will be processed and distributed. Further, an additional 200 core houses will be constructed and the programme for professional groups will provide 200 teachers, nurses and policemen with fast track access to loans for home construction. “Another public-private initiative, to ensure greater access to affordable housing, has been the recent establishment of a turnkey housing initiative which seeks to minimise the time taken between allocation, loan application and construction by immediately providing 2 bedroom houses to an additional 80 families by the end of the year,” he said.

The minister said that in addition, home improvement subsidies will be made available to vulnerable groups benefiting 190 coastland and 100 Amerindian families. Under the infrastructure development programme, works will be undertaken to improve roads, drains and structures in existing schemes such as Kokerite Hill, Uitvlugt, Her-stelling, Bartica and Wisroc.

Meanwhile, in the water sector, of the $2 billion allocated, $900 million is for the installation of 20 kilometres of transmission and distribution mains, the upgrading of water treatment plant systems in areas such as Rose Hall, Pouderoyen and Fellowship and the completion of four boreholes benefiting approximately 233,900 residents. In addition, $100 million is budgeted for the upgrade of the water supply system in areas such as West Watooka, Wisroc, Christianburg, Richmond Hill and Canvas City and $400 million is allocated towards the construction of two new water treatment plants at Wisroc and Amelia’s Ward to benefit approximately 30,000 residents.

“Complementing these efforts, the Energy Efficiency Pilot Project, will address the need to improve energy use within GWI facilities through the installation of 12 energy efficiency devices at selected locations on the East Bank and West Demerara to reduce high start-up energy consumption in the water supply system,” the minister said.

He noted that last year, $1.8 billion was spent in the sector facilitating the construction and upgrading of distribution and transmission mains in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 benefiting in excess of 90,000 persons.

This year, 150 million has been budgeted to install ten photovoltaic systems, upgrade five existing water supply systems and construct medium depth boreholes that will benefit over 11,000 persons in hinterland communities, the minister said.

In terms of sanitation, the establishment of a National Solid Waste Management Division is expected to be in place by the end of the year. $503 million has been budgeted to commence rehabilitation of nine sewer-pumping stations in the Georgetown sewer network and for the distribution of drugs aimed at interrupting the transmission of filaria and other diseases caused by contact with contaminated soil. Another $678 million is budgeted to continue the construction of the waste-receiving cell at the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill and to complete works towards the realisation of a treatment facility for pretreated medical and hazardous waste.

Last year, $588 million was spent on the construction and operation of the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill, which was opened in February of 2011 and is currently receiving and disposing of waste at an average rate of over 325 tonnes of garbage per day. Another $142 million was expended for the procurement of materials which will be used in 2012 to rehabilitate the Georgetown sewerage system.

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