Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Housing for poor coming - Holness announces $500m programme for indigent

Published:Monday | November 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness ringing the bell as Labourites packed the National Arena yesterday where the party held its 75th annual conference. At right is Horace Chang, general secretary of the party.

The Andrew Holness administration is now crafting a programme through which $500 million will be spent to build "reasonable" housing solutions for the poor and indigent across the island.

Further, Holness, the prime minister, signalled yesterday that from the Corporate Area to the western end of the island, more major roadworks were in the pipeline.

He announced, too, that hundreds of new jobs were on the horizon across several sectors and said his administration was on track to build 22,000 housing solutions by 2021 when a general election is constitutionally due.

"Building housing for the Jamaican people is my passion," declared Holness, who was speaking at the annual conference of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), held at the National Arena in St Andrew yesterday.

"And when we are through, we are going to build houses so that every single Jamaican don't ... have to go squat on somebody land," he added.

The prime minister reiterated his Government's commitment to trimming the national debt to 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and gave the assurance that the sacrifices of the Jamaican people to bring GDP to its current level of just under 100 per cent would not be squandered.

"We will not make the mistakes of the past. We will not willy-nilly spend. We will not allow corruption to eat out our money. We will not allow short-sighted policies to lead us down the wrong path," he said in a speech that comes near the midterm of his 2016 electoral victory.

"The Government is going to be frugal. The Government is going to ensure that every single dollar of taxpayers' resources is spent in a way that enhances Jamaica's development, and I give you that commitment," he added.

Holness said that details of the programme to build housing solutions for the poor and indigent were still being worked out, but indicated that more information would be available by the next budget cycle.

However, he indicated that as part of the plan, young people would be recruited into the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme.

"We are going to put them through a process of training from HEART Trust/NTA and other training institutions and we are going to use them in an apprenticeship modality to construct those homes for the poor and indigent," Holness explained.

He again acknowledged that the road-improvement projects being undertaken in the Corporate Area and St Catherine have caused dislocation, but warned members of the public to brace for more infrastructure work.

"After we finish Three Miles [and] Hagley Park Road; Half-Way Tree, Hope Road, here we come with infrastructure work," he said.

"Look out for the bypass in Annotto Bay, look out for the bypass in Spur Tree, look out for the bypass in Hope Bay, and look out for the bypass in Lucea," the prime minister added, while noting that the proposed projects would make it easier for Jamaicans to traverse the island.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com