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POLITICAL INTERFERENCE AT HAJ HURTS DUNBEHOLDEN DEPOSITORS – CHANG

Release Date: 
Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 14:00

In a further reaction to the management and Board upheaval revealed at the HAJ this week,  Opposition Spokesperson Horace Chang singled out depositors of the Dunbeholden housing project for protection and pointedly asked Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies, when he will deliver their housing units.

Dr Chang insisted that political interference has delayed delivery despite the use of an innovative model structured to deliver cost effective housing units despite government's funding constraints.

He explained, ‘You know this project was primarily aimed at ensuring access to affordable housing using a key public private partnership model. In fact, we crafted this model in 2011 because we recognized that during the challenging economic times caused by the recession, the Government would have been unable to provide units on its own initiative.  As challenging times continue, the Government should have fostered the model in order to protect depositors.” 

He went on to note that what has instead happened, is a gross interference with the model.  "I am advised that Government representatives have insisted on assignment of political contractors which has interfered in the private investor’s management of the project and pushed up the price of the project. Government’s interference has therefore made it infeasible for the investors to deliver completed units at the projected $3.5m.  Forced use of politically connected contractors has caused the closing price for units to now be closer to $5m."  Dr. Chang added that even more troubling to him, is the fact that not one single thing has happened on the project site!

“These units, should have already been started in order to be delivered in March 2014. Instead there is nothing on spot. If you take a quick look at the HAJ Facebook page, it is clearly demonstrated by observations logged there, how discontented people are with the delivery of the project.

“We left within the Ministry and specifically with the management of the HAJ, an agreement on an excellent project capable of delivering affordable homes to people, with a new project model, allowing both the Government and private investors to partner to meet a clear national need.  It is truly distressing that it has been interfered with in this way by old style politics.”

Dr Chang said it was important to remember that Jamaica needs to produce at least ten thousand housing units per year to address national housing needs, and that this project would have ensured, when completed, the provision of one thousand five hundred affordable units.  He urged Minister Davies to clean up the HAJ and to come clean by telling the people who deposited their hard earned money with the dream of owning a home, when he will deliver homes to them.

 

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