As the state-run Urban Development Commission (UDC) prepares for a possible cut in its budget, low-income Barbadians who want homes built or repaired will have to come up with some of the money to do it.
Director Derek Alleyne has disclosed that the UDC will no longer be footing the entire bill for home construction and repairs. The agency is also being selective about what projects it gets involved in, and how much building it will do.
He told Barbados TODAYthat the tough economic situation had forced the agency to change the way it had been doing business.
Alleyne says his department’s budget for 2014-2015 is $15 million but that could be cut in the next financial year.
“[We have made] some adjustments to what we’ve been doing. In this tight economic environment, what we’ve been trying to do is to have a shared relationship with our clients, where we’ve been asking people to make some contribution to whatever we are doing,” Alleyne revealed.
“If we are going to do some repairs to a house, we are asking the family –– we don’t care how small the amount is –– to [help] us, rather than our having to inject all the capital . . . .”
He also informed Barbados TODAY that the economic situation had also resulted in a slowdown in the commission’s building programme.
“We are doing partnerships. If we had a million dollars, rather than our doing all the work, we get the owner of the house, the family overseas, somebody to make a contribution, so the million dollars would stretch beyond what it would, say four years ago, when we were doing 100 per cent replacement or repair.”
The UDC chief said the commission was now selective in the projects it undertook.
“We used to use the worst come, worst served. Now we are doing those who can help themselves,” he declared. “We are also embarking now on a lot of environmental clean-up programmes.”
Alleyne said the commission was as well widening its gardening programme to extend beyond urban clients to include communities.
“So before the end of July, we will have a community outreach for our gardening and greening programmes, targeting communities where we can measure some performance and some attitude change, so we can begin to develop models for our communities across Barbados with the greening programme,” he disclosed.
“We also have a programme that we’re going to take with the Botanical Gardens, because they have been concentrating on their garden; if the garden is to have significance, people must have a consciousness about the importance of a garden,” the UDC boss stated.
He further disclosed that since the staff of the National Conservation Commission would be reduced, his agency intended to partner with the NCC in carrying out its environmental projects, rather than duplicating its efforts.