Robinson-Regis tries to 'out' Lutchmedial over HDC unit

Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial.  -
Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial. -

Housing and Urban Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis has raised questions over Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial’s purchase and sale of a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) unit several years ago.

She brought up the issue as she sought to defend her “friend and colleague” Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings at the PNM's town meeting on Tuesday night.

She said Lutchmedial had been quite vocal in raising queries about Cummings and his family businesses, when she had received an HDC unit at the Oasis housing development in Chaguanas in 2014 and, through a licence-to-occupy agreement, bought it for between $500,000 and $600,000. The minister said this unit was then sold in 2020 for $1.2 million.

“You all know that the HDC provides housing units for medium- to low-income earners. You could tell me that Jayanti, in less than five years, was able to pay off for her house and then sell it for $1.2 million? And Jayanti want to talk about Foster?” an incredulous Robinson-Regis asked.

Last year, Lutchmedial read from a 2019 Special Branch report as she sought to raise queries over Cummings. Robinson-Regis also questioned if Lutchmedial ever lived in the unit.

The Opposition senator took to her Facebook page on Wednesday to respond to Robinson-Regis.

She said the minister's statements and claims were a "desperate attempt" to deflect from the allegations surrounding Cummings and in so doing, "sully my good name."

Lutchmedial said when she got the HDC property in 2014, she was a senior legal officer in a ministry, owned no other property and was not yet a member of the UNC.

She said the property cost $774,000 and she made a down payment via cheque, financed from personal savings and a mortgage facility from the TT Mortgage Finance Company Ltd for $682,000.

Lutchmedial said she then took other loans to modify the home, which was done with the approval of the HDC, and those modifications improved its value.

“When I applied to the HDC for permission to dispose in 2020, I set out all details of why I wanted to sell, which were personal in nature and had to do with a change in my family situation.

“I wrote a very open and detailed letter to Mr Brent Lyons asking for permission to sell. No doubt Camille would have seen this on my file, but true to form and not deviating from her reputation as the PNM's premier mudslinger against women, she made no mention of this," Lutchmedial said.

“An independent valuation valued the land and house at $1,250,000. I had an offer for $1,200,000 which I disclosed to HDC. The approval was granted by the HDC.”

She stressed that, at the time she sold the unit, there was a pay-off balance of $554,000 and part of the proceeds of the sale went to TTMF to pay off the mortgage.

“Camille can go digging as far back as she wants, she will find nothing to impugn my character. Every half cent earned by me was done so by dint of hard work and diligence," Lutchmedial said.


"Robinson-Regis tries to ‘out’ Lutchmedial over HDC unit"

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