(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – The first 1,000 government houses that the Bouterse Administration plans to build with a Chinese loan have been “safeguarded.” “It’s just a matter of the Finance and the Foreign Affairs Ministers placing their signatures, and that’s a formality,” Minister Ramon Abrahams of Public Works (OW) disclosed yesterday during an interview with de Ware Tijd. The Export/Import Bank of China (Eximbank) approved a US$ 50 million loan on April 9 to finance construction of the houses. “You may remember that we had signed an agreement with Dalian for the construction of 5,000 houses some months ago. Yet due to the sum and the credit ceiling (set by law), we have decided to build the houses in a phased manner, with 1,000 being built every year.” Abrahams also divulged that the first 500 houses will be built in Commewijne.
The plan is that as soon as construction of the first 1,000 houses has started, a new project will be submitted to the Eximbank for 2013 and the following years. Since taking office, President Desi Bouterse has mentioned the building of 18,000 houses during his term as one of his policy priorities, yet only 100 houses have been built after 18 months. Bouterse’s political opponents often use this as an example of what they call his tendency to make big promises he cannot keep. During a meeting of his party last year, Bouterse said that every effort would be made to build the houses in order to alleviate the housing shortage in Suriname. “If we don’t succeed in this, we’ll have to explain to the people why,” he stated then.