Addressing hundreds gathered at the event, Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali stated that not only was the government re sponsive to the needs of the people but it is also very ded icated towards ensuring that their lives are transformed socially and economically through the provision of a wide range of public goods and services.
Minister Ali said the housing sector and develop ment in Guyana have come a long way surviving various hardships, challenges and what he referred to as the “ transformational changes” which were necessary to bringing the country back on the path to sustainable de velopment.
He said the gov ernment had no apologies to offer naysayers and other critics for its decision to ven ture to Linden this year and empowering more citizens with much needed houselots.
“ You deserve them and its normal for citizens to look forward to these entitlements when they abide by the law, meet the requirements and pay their taxes”, Ali said sharply.
He disclosed mind boggling facts which detailed the investment that govern ment has made in the housing sector and to aid the drive at Linden much to the contrary of information being peddled about “ discrimination and neglect” of the residents there. “ Over the last six years, we have in vested a whopping $ 2.1 bil lion in the housing sector at Linden... this translates into a per capita investment of $ 52,500, and over the next five years nearly $ 3 billion would be invested,” Ali an nounced.
He spoke about plans within the next two to three years that would see the construction and commissioning of two new water treatment plants in Linden with one being in Amelia’s Ward and the other in Wisroc.
This investment will be made at the cost of $ 2.5 bil lion while it was noted that the contract was already signed in July 2011. Ali did not even mention the contin ued investments made in the water systems and distribution networks nor the construction of wells and roads specifically.
“ You are on the road to improving your asset val ue and your net economic worth! You are on the road to owning something and improving your asset base”, Ali plugged as called on all new house- lot recipients to follow any of the contractual and stipulated rules and regulations outlined in their agreement of sale and title.
Ali said the ministry has implemented new policies that would see action being taken against house- lot owners who fail to properly maintain the land and its environs, construct within a reasonable time and pollute as well as damage the road infrastructure by storing or dumping builders waste and materials. He urged all those present to learn to exploit the benefits of “ economies of scales”, advising Lindeners to group themselves up and make purchases at some of the hardware stores and out lets that have building ma terials so as to get price discounts and other bargains.
The housing minister said that while he was pleased to have the commer cial banks and lending agencies on board, he had a score to settle or some advice for institutions that were not issuing loans on favourable terms to residents of Linden.
“ I want to say that they have believed a myth. A myth that says that Lindeners do not possess the economic ability to pay their loans,” Ali said, in essence arguing that they were wrong about Lindeners.
He called on the banks and the private sector to change their policy positions towards Linden as he strongly believed that the housing drive was being ac celerated within the Region 10 community.
Addressing the contentious issue of regularising squatter settlements, Minister Ali reported to a well focused audience that some 2100 settlements are still to be made legal or regularised.
He said residents can expect titles to be dis tributed to those who have occupied those lands for more than two and three de cades over the next two to three weeks.