By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali has discredited claims by the Opposition that the $3B loan from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC)for the housing sector is an ‘election gimmick’.
During a telephone interview with iNews on Monday, February 02, Minister Ali explained that the money secured from the GGMC will be used to further develop the thriving housing sector.
Additionally, Ali noted that the position taken by the Opposition comes as a surprise since plans to develop the sector was made public and discussed in the National Assembly.
“We have consistently said that we have to develop more lands around the East Bank and on the West Coast where the demand for housing still remains very high and the only way we can fulfill this demand is if we have the primary input which is land to develop into housing, so I don’t see how this is an election gimmick or how this is associated with spending for elections, this is spending for the expansion of the housing programme,” Ali said.
Leader of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger had expressed outrage at the GGMC’s decision especially at a time when its employees protested for months for an increase in their wages and salaries.
Granger told a news conference on Friday, January 30 that the loan is illegal and that APNU’s lawyers are reviewing the issue to see to what extent the law has been broken.
The Party plans to take action in the Court or when Parliament reconvenes.
“We feel that it is completely out of order, it is outside of the law. My understanding is that the rules governing the expenditure of the GGMC funds are clearly defined.
He is of the view that the allocation of that amount of money for the housing sector is misuse of State funds.
Since late last year, GGMC employees have been protesting for an increase in salaries and it was only recently that an agreement was met between the entity and the Union to have employees return to work.
The loan agreement between GGMC and CH&PA was announced on Thursday, January 29 in a joint statement, which noted that CH&PA has one year to repay the loan.
The GGMC in defending their position stated that its “undertaking to provide a loan to the CH&PA was done purely as an investment opportunity given that the rate offered was 5%; 3.2% greater than the rate currently enjoyed at the commercial banks. In addition, it was seen another opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the nation.”