The cash-strapped National Housing Corporation (NHC) has agreed a land swapping deal with the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) as it seeks to expand Government’s housing programme.
Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman told Parliament Tuesday that under the arrangement the two state agencies would obtain from each other, land that is more suited to their purposes.
“We have . . . entered into an arrangement that we expect will soon go to Cabinet where we have been able to swap some land with the BADMC,” Kellman said as he led off debate on the vesting of about 63,829 square feet of Crown land in Station Hill, St Peter in the NHC for housing development.
“As you know, their [BADMC] mandate is about agriculture and [they] had some land that was not suitable for agriculture so it was agreed that they would swap so that you wouldn’t build houses on land that can produce food, and they gave us their grass land so that we can continue our housing programme,” he added without going into details even as he revealed that he was also examining the possibility of acquiring land in Cottage, St Lucy for both housing and farming.
The minister said the problems relating to housing would not go away anytime soon, and he promised to find “creative ways of solving the problems”.
He said he was especially proud of Government’s rent-to-own programme and the decision to make land available in several parishes at $5.00 per square foot as part of the administration’s scheme to help Barbadians own a piece of the rock.
With the NHC said to be in debt of over of half a billion dollars up to last year, Kellman cast some of the blame on the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) which was voted out of office nine years ago, saying the BLP had allowed the situation to deteriorate while it was in power.
He also made it clear that while his ministry was not fortunate enough to receive substantial subsidies under the current Democratic Labour Party Government, he was not prepared to simply sit and wait.
“We have had to pay our costs, but because the Ministry of Finance has to find money for the productive sector, I am not going to sit down and cry. I have been given a hand to play and I will play the hand.
“I must be prepared to [make] the sacrifice, but I must also be prepared to be creative and ensure that I find creative and honest ways to ensure that the Ministry of Housing and Lands can run, and it can create the necessary revenue,” he said.
Though not going into details on what the intended “sacrifices” might be, Kellman said there was a need for a wider discussion on housing solutions and the NHC.