OROPOUCHE East MP Roodal Moonilal warned people not to expect to get a housing unit from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) when they buy just a few HDC bonds, and predicted no new housing would be built by the Govt before the next general election.
“Don’t get your hopes up high that you can buy $5,000 in bonds and in a couple of months you will buy a house.”
He spoke yesterday (Friday) in the House of Representatives on the Government Savings Bonds (Amendment) Bill 2019 which sets up bonds for the public to buy as part payment towards a unit, with income from bond sales funding unit construction.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar welcomed back Moonilal after his silencing until his apology to Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds for unparliamentary remarks. “It’s a pleasure to speak...” he began. “It’s a pleasure to speak,” he quipped.
Moonilal had many fears about the bill. He asked if the people with money to buy many bonds would somersault over those waiting years for public housing, as he recalled as past housing minister giving a unit to one Trevor Dell who had applied the year Moonilal was born.
“It’s a pay for preference scheme. You jump the queue at HDC.
“To what extent does that represent an equitable provision of social housing? It is pay to play’
Saying bonds can be bought in units of $5,000, he asked if there is any cap of investment, so as to prevent any individual or institution from establishing some sort of monopoly on ownership of housing units.
He also feared big institutional investors who buy many bonds could make a land-grab of HDC lands at prime locations, and that big-players could buy many HDC houses and become landlords. He calculated only 40 per cent of bonds would be bought by individuals and 60 per cent by corporations, as he promised an amendment to the bill to prevent institutions capturing public real estate.
“It is interesting this is coming two weeks before the budget,” he said of the bill, suggesting it was a rush job to give the Government something to boast of on October 7.
Moonilal lamented this bond issue would be run by the HDC as he alleged the public confidence in the HDC had been hit by the Prime Minister’s recent cancellation of a massive public housing contract between the HDC and China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Ltd (CGGC.)”Public trust is the HDC is at an all time low,” he said, saying a bond-issue depends on confidence.
“When are you going to build houses? Who is to build them?” Moonilal asked, saying none will be built before the 2020 general election.