Former Minister of Housing and Lands, now Opposition MP Gline Clarke, is calling for an investigation into the operations of the state-owned National Housing Corporation. Clarke, who was contributing to a debate on a resolution to sell a disused public toilet on crown land at Boscobel in St Peter to a Thelma Agard Bowen for $15,000, suggested that the probe examine why the NHC is taking long periods to transfer titles to people.
He said he did not object to the sale of land to anyone, but was concerned at the length of time it took to convey the property under discussion. He did admit, though, that he took some responsibility, considering that the sale started with his then Barbados Labour Party administration.
The Opposition Parliamentarian was worried about people having to wait for as long as ten years to have properties sold to prospective owners. Clarke noted that some people who had been waiting for conveyances had even died and their children continued to wait too. He argued that his then Government had conveyed more than 5,000 house lots between 1994 and 2008, but told the House that today such matters were moving at a “very” slow pace, despite taking on three lawyers.
The Opposition member also informed Parliament that one of his constituencies had not only paid the deposit on a property, but the purchase price overtime, and still continued to wait for the conveyance.
“While we congratulate the minister for bringing this resolution, it has taken too long. This is a small bath. If it takes this long every year to convey something, there must be an investigation,” he pointed out. “We need to examine what is happening at the National Housing Corporation at this time. We believe that the state has a role to play in ensuring that the facilities at the National Housing Corporation are improved.
“Over the years, we have seen the administrative department at the National Housing improve when we set up a new department to look at the legal aspect of the National Housing Corporation. The sale of land to individuals who have been waiting for ten to 15 years is indeed a bad thing,” Clarke asserted, “sending the wrong signals.
“I am really wondering what is happening at this corporation. I am not here to blame the minister. I am not here to blame anyone; but I am saying if it takes so long every year to convey, we need to investigate.”
The MP for St George North suggested that the corporation was rich in land, but yet had no cash. He said too many people were lining up at the NHC every day and still not receiving help. Clarke told the chamber that “not a single lot” at Constant Phase 2 had been sold, even after five years. He believed that Government departments ought to wake up and do things in a timely manner.
Clarke’s colleague Santia Bradshaw echoed his sentiments of not objecting to the resolution, but felt it was taking too long to make conveyances. Bradshaw also admitted that both parties had made errors in getting this resolution to Parliament and making transfers of titles. She suggested that “we owe it to the country” to come to the House and say what was causing the delays.
The Opposition parliamentarian felt that transactions which took more than three to six months were inordinately long –– once everything was in order. She said the transfer of terrace units was another issue of great concern to her. She feared, too, that people, partricularly young ones, could end up on the streets due to overcrowding in small homes and the long waiting list at the NHC. (EJ)