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By Richmond Felix

September 3, 1998 - An Executive Summary submitted to the Prime Minister last year, found that Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDC) had over the years, operated without the existence of an annual budget or any government policy guidelines. Recently the Corporation has been implementing reforms for more effective management of its developments and efficient construction of housing. The effort is also intended to put the Corporation in good standing with its clients and the public at large.

During a press conference held earlier this week, HUDC’s Chairman and General Manager, told journalists that the provision of housing was seen purely as a commercial venture, rather than an activity aimed at satisfying a basic need. It was also revealed that despite a desire to generate surpluses, a number of housing developments have been without infrastructure for several years.

The most significant project undertaken by the HUDC is the Carellie Housing Development, but it has also been the source of a serious cash flow situation.  The construction firm Ellis Don which was responsible for overseeing the project for the HUDC had placed a caution on the Corporation's property in August 1997, because outstanding payments due.  Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Kenny was called on to intercede on behalf of HUDC.  Parliament subsequently approved a loan of $7 million to pay off Ellis Don and a $3 million overdraft facility for working capital. "We have settled with Ellis Don and we hope this has taught us a lesson and we are definitely going to learn from this lesson," lamented General Manager of the HUDC – Joseph Alexander.

HUDC’s problems in the past stem from poor management, ill-equipped and under-trained site staff, poor quality control and generally a lack of coordination. The new HUDC board which was appointed in June 1997, has since made a number of recommendations for the improvement.

HUDC Chairman, Egbert Louis said that it was obvious from a review that there is a need for stringent control, accountability, limits of awarding contracts and signing of cheques.  Most importantly he added there is a need for policy or continual guidance from central government.

According to the HUDC, all complaints are channeled through its sales department and dealt with within 1 to 3 working days. Since the new board took over, a number of projects have been undertaken to address problems concerning access to water and electricity, and the road network.

The Corporation is also promoting the involvement of persons in the construction of their own homes by building a core house with kitchenette and washroom, leaving responsibility for the finish product with the customer. This is primarily aimed at bringing down the price of housing units. The HUDC is currently in the final stages of a Development at Beausejour – Gros Islet. In the period 1994-1998 a profit has only been realized once, and that was with the Monier Housing Development which had a surplus of $465,000.

 

 

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