NHT In Crisis
The National Housing Trust (NHT) board has been in a meeting up to late last night, over allegations of misconduct in the purchase of the Outameni Experience near Falmouth.
The NHT purchased the struggling entity at a cost of J$180 million in 2013, but the news was only broken at the end of last month (October 2014). The Housing Trust is slated to spend another $111 million to get it back up and running efficiently over the next 3 years.
Since then, the opposition JLP and numerous other individuals and organisations have strongly criticized the purchase. Dr. Horace Chang, Opposition spokesman on Infrastructure, Transport and Water has called for the board to resign and be replaced. Opposition leader, Andrew Holness has tabled 6 questions in parliament for the Prime Minister, Portial Simpson Miller, to answer today. No doubt, these are the questions the board must have been pondering last night.
What Is The NHT?
The NHT is a compulsory contribution housing scheme for all workers (of all income levels) in Jamaica. The scheme has been criticized as providing housing only for the medium and upper class. The lower class contribute, but cannot afford to meet the NHT standards to receive low interest housing loans. It is a cash laden entity (rare for a government body in Jamaica) and successive governments have seeked to raid the coiffures whenever they are in deep need.
Trelawny Benefits but Jamaica Loses
The Outameni property continues to be the center of attention. For us here in Trelawny, it is good for us to have the attraction up and running again. It is one of the things to do in Falmouth that provides attractions for our visitors. However, we cannot be selfish and support the misuse of public funds.
It is clear as there is nothing in the charter of the Trust that allows it to enter into such a business venture. The Trust’s excuse (to make the purchase legal), is that they are going to build a “few” houses on the property.
The problem with this is that the property is only 10 acres. That is J$18 million per acre! How many “few” houses can they build to make this investment profitable? It doesn’t make it any better when the Trust confessed to owning over 700 acres of undeveloped land.
Well, the debate rages on. Let’s hope this does not end without someone being accountable.
Source: Jamaica Observer