In her maiden presentation to Parliament, during the 2nd day of National Budget 2020 debates, Honorable Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Ms. Susan Rodrigues, made a powerful delivery when she represented her government’s policies for the Housing and Water sector.
She expressed delight at the opportunity to perform her functions on behalf of the Government and by extension the people of Guyana, in the Housing and Water Sectors. “I am also privileged to work alongside my colleague, Minister Collin Croal, whom I consider a hard dedicated worker and a friend.”
Minister Rodrigues highlighted the tedious efforts of the administration, under the tutelage of His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, to present the best budget to the nation. “This document was crafted after meetings and interactions with residents in numerous communities across the ten regions,” she informed her parliamentary audience. The Minister said that President Ali listened attentively to every plea of the ordinary Guyanese and based on those interactions, fashioned Budget 2020 with the people of Guyana in mind. “This is a peoples’ budget,” she confidently exhorted.
Minister Rodrigues also bemoaned the state of affairs in the Housing and Water sector when she entered office, “Mr. Speaker, I would describe the mess inherited in my Ministry as the ‘Augean Stables;’ not hyperbolic or an exaggeration, the coalition did not even know how many applications were outstanding which further demonstrated their incompetence.” Minister Rodrigues exhorted.
She further highlighted the inefficiency of her predecessors which includes 50,000 outstanding applications.
“We will fix that Mr. Speaker and we have already given instructions to address the applications and allocations system to ensure it is done systematically, fairly, and expeditiously, revealed Ms. Rodrigues. The Minister reinforced the government’s commitment to providing housing for every eligible Guyanese, “As stated in our manifesto in the run-up to the 2020 elections, and indeed for all the elections as far back as 1992, we have committed to providing every Guyanese family with a proper home in a safe, secure, and proper neighborhood.” The minister in laying out her Government’s foresight for the housing sector stated this would be to enable every Guyanese family a proper home in a safe, secure, and proper neighborhood. “Not as squatters or as tenants but as responsible and proud owners, with titles that banks and other lending institutions will regard as good security.” She reiterated. It is against this backdrop that the administration has signaled its intent to restore the $30 million loan ceiling, the interest which is tax-deductible for first-time homeowners, and the increase from $8 million to $10 million for low-income loans. Minister Rodrigues spoke of the administration’s plans to foster better relationships with lending institutions which allow low-come households to borrow up to an additional $2 million at a lower interest rate. Other measures for the housing sector include; the implementation of National Housing and Settlement policies through an efficient, well-planned, coordinated, and structured framework; to realize the development of sustainable, affordable, and modern settlements. The approach will be comprehensive with the emphasis not on mere allocation, but on promoting, encouraging, and facilitating homeownership among ordinary Guyanese catering for all income brackets.
According to Minister Rodrigues, the sum of $292.8 million has been budgeted to commence the preparation of land for residential lots. This amount will be used for the construction of roads and bridges to access lands for the preparation works in Recht-Door-Zee, Block AI Annandale, Cummings Lodge, Industry, Vigilance, Lethem, and Kwakwani among many other locations. Guyanese can look forward to an aggressive and fair allocation exercise as these lots become available.
An additional $1.721 billion has been allocated for infrastructure development to make serviced lots available. This allocation includes monies for the acquisition of lands from NICIL, GUYSUCO, and GL&SC as part of our 50,000 house lots commitment to the electorate. This 2020 program sets the conditions for the awakening of the housing sector.
Addressing the Water Service Expansion and Management sector, Minister Rodrigues reminded that her Ministry is responsible for efficiently delivering quality, affordable and equitable potable water services to all Guyanese and a leading institutional mechanism for an integrated water resources management in Guyana. “Our Government aims to extend the coverage for the provision of potable water throughout Guyana, with emphasis on unserved areas as a top priority.
It is our focus to work towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal No 6 which is to ‘ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all by 2030’ she said. Minister Rodrigues further assured that there will be an improvement in the quality of life for all Guyanese following the increase in water security extending to coastal, urban, and hinterland areas.
The government has provided financing under this program for the installation of smart meters in Amelia’s Ward-LINDEN. This initiative will result in the reduction of water wastage and increase pressure for domestic use where desired.
The sum of G$113.3 million has been budgeted for the procurement of pipes to replace aged and encrusted mains between Vlissengen Rd. (Shelterbelt) – West along Church St., to Cummings St., Georgetown. This initiative will result in improved water quality, reduce water losses, and improved the level of service (pressure) and is expected to benefit 200,000 persons when the project is completed. Other areas of focus under the 2020 national budget will include; a budgetary allocation of G$56.5 million for the procurement of smart-water meters for over 2500 customers in La Parfaite Harmonie, Friendship/Providence, Mon Repos/BV areas. This initiative will result in an improved service level and a reduction of non-revenue water.