Denis Kellman has defended his stewardship of the Ministry of Housing, saying that despite his frequent posts on social media, he was very much working hard and delivering housing solutions to Barbadians.
The Member of Parliament for St Lucy sought to assure the nation that he has not been “idling” or “wasting taxpayers’ money”, as he contributed to the just-ended debate on the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
Kellman outlined what his ministry has done since 2013, as he dismissed any suggestion that he spent too much of his time on Facebook, instead of carrying out his mandate as Minister of Housing.
“Since 2013, 330 houses were constructed and allocated; 440 lots were allocated; rental units of 131 were allocated; and 82 rent-to-own [homes] were also allocated, giving a total solution of 983 – and more to come,” he said.
“What is even more interesting [is that] during that same time, the only thing the Ministry of Finance was paying for this minister would have been the debt. We are now accountable. We have to look for our own finances. I have been able to execute and deliver.”
To assure the country that he was on the right track, Kellman pointed out that the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom had admitted that rent-to-own was one of the fastest ways to help people to property ownership.
Under a rent-to-buy arrangement, a qualified applicant can move into a National Housing Corporation property they wish to purchase and pay $500 a month while the legal work is being finalized, he explained.
“I want to show you how important that project is. Right now, we have about eight or nine houses at Lancaster One waiting for a solution, but it does not mean that because we have eight or nine houses at Lancaster One that people are not living in the houses. All of the houses are occupied because of the rent-to-buy solution that I put in place,” said Kellman.
“If people are not in the houses, don’t blame the Government or the Minister, because we have ensured that. . . the people can be in houses much faster.”
Kellman also accused members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party of “running with the fiction and not the facts” as it relates to occupancy levels at the Grotto high-rise apartments.
He said while they were claims last week that only three people were living in that complex, there are currently 59 residents.
“I am bringing the facts and if anybody [doubts] what I am saying, I have documentation to prove it, and these were not produced by me,” the Minister of Housing declared.