Despite being allocated $5.8B in 2016, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) was only able to spend 12% of the money, a report from the agency says.
The report, which highlights the agency’s achievements in 2016, stated that at December 2016, the total capital expenditure stood at $668.4M, which is equivalent to 12% of the budgeted $5.8B. The current expenditure was $414.2M, with the current revenue standing at $67.8M, the report added.
During the budget debate last month, Minister responsible for housing in the Ministry of Communities Valerie Adams-Patterson said she was “definitely not happy to report” the shortcomings of the CH&PA and attributed them to the agency being plagued by numerous human resources challenges, including unfilled positions, lack of capacity in some regards, and untimely decision-making.
“However, I am confident that this scenario will not continue into 2017 and the budgeted sum will be fully expended by December 31st,” she had said.
According to the CH&PA report, a projected $5.2B of the total budgeted sum was identified to fund the authority’s infrastructural investments and housing construction programme.
This programme, it said, included the installation of electrical distribution network within areas in five regions: Lust En Rust and Zeelugt Phases Two and Three in Region Three; Perseverance, Peter’s Hall, Farm Phases One and Two, Covent Garden, Paradise, Enmore, Barnwell and the new industrial sites at Diamond and Eccles in Region Four; Hope, Experiment and Balthyock in Region Five; Kilcoy/Chesney, in Region Six; and Five Miles and Bartica, in Region Seven.
The report said the procurement process has started for the supply of electrical hardware for the regions and tenders were submitted to the National Tender Board for the award of the contract.
The construction of turnkey houses at Perseverance, infrastructure upgrading works within existing housing areas and development works in new areas, and rollover contracts and offsite investments to facilitate development works by private developments were also slated under the programme. It was noted too that the sum included the externally-funded Government of Guyana/Inter-American Development Bank (GoG/IDB) Sustainable Housing in the Hinterland Programme, which was approved last June.
In relation to the turnkey houses at Perseverance, the report said a total of 90 existing houses were completed and remedial works were done on 70 houses, which benefitted a total of 160 families, but no new houses were constructed.
On planned upgrades of existing areas and the development of new ones, the CH&PA report said neither was done since it was felt that feasibility assessments, supported by comprehensive and accurate date/financial information for each housing area, ought to inform such decisions. “The field data collection exercises were completed in November. The data entry and verification exercise is in progress,” the report added.
As it relates to the continuation of works on 77 rollover contracts, the report said 45 contracts were completed for 30 areas in regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
On the Sustainable Housing in the Hinterland Programme, the report said that although the CH&PA did not start the construction of 17 houses and replacement of 17 roofs in hinterland villages as it had planned, it made “great progress” in shortlisting and mobilising beneficiaries and procuring materials.
It was noted too that the mobilisation of beneficiaries ensures that the indigenous families were given a voice in the type of house they desire, while the procurement of material was done in collaboration with village councils.
Meanwhile, the CH&PA report noted that the agency was able to surpass its target of 1,000 allocations by more than 100% after it recorded 2,015 allocations. Additionally, out of a targeted 400 squatters, 221 were regularized, it noted.
Special arrangements were also put in place to facilitate the allocations of house lots for policemen and policewomen at Leonora, Fort Wellington and Albion, it also said.
It was also noted that the Jubilee Payment Plan, which offered a special discount for allottees to complete payment to mark the country’s 50th independence anniversary, saw 2,881 beneficiaries, who paid a total of $590M into the agency, while receiving a matching discount. The beneficiaries comprised 695 high-income allottees, 1,440 middle-income allottees, 524 moderate-income allottees, 215 low-income allottees and 7 low-income allottees.
The report also pointed out that there was a countrywide consultation on the lowering of the age at which a citizen can apply for a house lot. Based on the consultations, a decision was taken to allow for applications to be made by citizens who are 18, with allocation at 21 years. “This gives the young applicant the opportunity to save monies to facilitate construction at time of allocation and also the opportunity to build their credit worthiness with financial institutions or engage in meaningful employment,” the report added.