Acres of GuySuCo land being considered for Govt’s housing project

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As Government embarks on its massive housing drive, it is looking to utilise the acres of land owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) that are no longer being used, as the industry is being restructured.
This was disclosed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at last Thursday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
“One of the options that is available is for us to look at lands that had been used by GuySuCo that are no longer being planted with cane – for us to utilise those lands as well for housing and other forms of development,” he told reporters.
Moreover, the State Minister indicated that the Administration would also be moving to repossess those large plots of lands granted to developers under the previous Administration which have not been in use.
“Since we took office, I believe we had served notices to the owners of these lands and asked them, basically in relation to the contracts which they had, to activate the terms and conditions of those contracts. Once the time had expired and nothing was done significantly, then Government will enter into negotiations with these persons with a view of repossessing these lands for better use by the community… We believe it is not right for large plots of land to be lying idle while we are basically trying our best all-around to find lands for people,” he stated.
Harmon noted, however, that any repossession would have to be done via due process. He added too that Government has learnt that some developers, who were given large tracts of lands to develop housing estates, were actually subdividing the lands then selling them as house lots at costs that were several times the value they paid for them. This practice, the Minister said, is something that Government will be looking into as well.
Meanwhile, with Government embarking on several major housing projects, it is pushing the use of more local materials and contractors when doing construction work. Harmon told reporters that Guyana imported many foreign species of lumber when the country had a wide variety here to choose from.
“…We want to encourage the use of the woods that we have here in Guyana… There are also some proposals to relook at the production of clay bricks and many of these things which really made us self-sufficient in some way; we’ll have to review these things, because we can’t just continue buying these products from abroad when in fact we have the facilities right here to do it,” Harmon posited.

CONCESSIONS

To this end, the State Minister noted that Government would be introducing tax concessions to encourage the use of local materials. He went on to say that the thrust of the coalition Government was to not only provide house lots to Guyanese but to build houses to form communities, which would be the focus of its housing drive.

On the other hand, he added that the new housing project would be a partnership initiative with the Private Sector,  the details of which would be included in a White Paper to be presented to the National Assembly.

This Paper, the Minister said, will include the method of construction, which will focus more on indigenous materials and local contractors; the method of payment per unit, mortgages for recipients and criteria for allocation, and included also the issue of self-help programmes.
The document will also address squatting as Government promises to regularise the practice throughout the various regions in Guyana.
Moreover, the State Minister explained that the construction of duplexes and townhouses project which the Communities Ministry was  embarking on would  commence in the second quarter of this year in April. Government recognises that housing was one of the major issues affecting Guyanese and in order to address the issue, Harmon said the housing drive was being fast-tracked.
Last September, the Communities Ministry disclosed that the construction of duplexes and townhouses, targeting Public Sector employees, youths and low-income earners, would be undertaken in order to push the development of local housing.
These housing units will be constructed in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Five (Mahaica-Berbice); Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) at a total cost of $5 billion, with each unit costing $5.4 million. (Guyana Times)

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