A backbencher has called on Government to pay outstanding subsidies promised landowners by the previous administration under the landmark law to provide tenure at concessionary prices.
St George North MP and Deputy Speaker of the House Gline Clarke recalled an amendment to the Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act in 1997 which provided that while the landlord would sell at market price, tenants would pay $2.50 per square foot, with a Government subsidy for the remainder.
But he charged that the last Democratic Labour Party administration had not paid the outstanding balances, leaving countless Barbadians in jeopardy.
“In the last administration the Government did not put in their share, so that many tenants had their $2.50 and registered their $2.50 a square foot with the [Urban Development Commission], but the [UDC] did not have the money to complete the sale. Now this is disgraceful and there are many people within urban Barbados who cannot complete the sale,” Clarke revealed today in Parliament during debate on a land resolution.
“I want to urge the minister to ensure that the Government, despite its hardships today, completes this arrangement. Government must complete the arrangement and put in the difference between the $2.50 and the market price because we were at a point in time in the 90’s where we were saying we did not want to disadvantage landlords.”
“In 2018 we have to be visionary too. We have to look and see how we can subsidize and help the poor. We have to see how we can push housing for the middle income. We have to look and see how we can make Barbados a thriving society, despite we are in an IMF programme, I am convinced that there are still a lot of things which can be done,” he stated.
One suggestion Clarke put forward was to look at giving longer leases to tenants.
He said this would allow householders to more easily buy land on which to build a house.
“I would want the minister to look at the present system because we need to look at leases. If the cost of land is the problem, we have to look at long leases. Is it not possible for us to look at a system where persons can obtain land at long leases, where they can take this lease to the credit union and get money to get a house?” he questioned.
Clark said that although Barbados is currently under International Monetary Fund supervision, it still has to find a way to provide housing solutions for the most vulnerable.
He has insisted that while the country might be struggling financially, assistance had to be provided to those less fortunate.