Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 21st 2016 Contents news A5
Monday, November 21, 2016 guardian.co.tt
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for NOVEMBER 17TH, 2016
Moonilal: HDC plan a political ploy
Government's announcement on the
eve of local government elections of
plans to sell vacant/vandalised Hous-
ing Development Corporation (HDC)
units to prospective homeowners is
a naked political ploy that can lead to
massive corruption and enormous loss
to the State.
This was the charge of former housing
minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, in response
to Housing Minister Randall Mitchell's an-
nouncement that vandalised HDC houses
may be sold to citizens.
"It's a completely mad cap plan. It has an
inbred capacity for corruption. Friends and
family will be able to buy houses cheaply,"
"It's a populist political ploy on the eve of
the local government elections, as they also
promised to give out 1,000 houses before
Moonilal said the idea was thrown to him
when he served as housing minister in the
last administration and he rejected it. Such
a plan opens the way for HDC houses to be
declared vandalised and sold to friends,
family and party supporters at devalued
prices, he said.
He felt the announcement, coming one
week before local government elections on
November 28, is a political ploy.
Mitchell had said: "It might mean that
potential home owners may have to accept
the units in a less than perfect condition and
the HDC coming to treat with the issues later
on, or the home owner accepting the unit
in an as is, where is condition because we
have a lot of vacant/vandalised units just
sitting there for years with little money to
The minister made the statements at a key
distribution ceremony in San Fernando. He
indicated this was in order to give people a
chance to occupy new houses in time for
Christmas and to stimulate the economy
with resulting job opportunities for "hand-
ymen, masons, plumbers, electricians etc".
"And it is for this reason that you will see a
number of businesses, large and small, here
offering you brochures showing what goods
and services they have to offer."
Moonilal said housing units have to be
given to clients in good condition as the
basis to sign on for a mortgage.
He asked:"Who will place the value on
vandalised units? Are they to be auctioned
as derelict properties?"
Moonilal said there will be a discrepancy
between the value of these vandalised units
and the regular one next door which, in re-
ality, will both carry the same cost.
"It will lead to massive cost to the State
and to massive corruption in the valuing of
properties said to be vandalised."
Moonilal said it was also lead chaos at the
T&T Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF).
"For instance, if a particular unit is val-
ued at $750,000, the TTMF will work out
a particular mortgage arrangement. If the
unit is vandalised, will there be another
arrangement to pay at a different value?
Will a unit with poor electrical fittings be
Fairy character Larissa Hosein hugs a
horse from the Police Mounted Branch
ridden by Allan Fraser before the start
of the Grant-A-Wish Foundation's
Santa Claus Parade at the Queen's
Park, Savannah, Port of- Spain
yesterday. Also in picture are, from
left, Ricalda Aguilera, Sarah Ojar and
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
Moonilal said the HDC should fix vandalised units
and then sell them quickly. "Move people into the
homes and they become their own security guards."
Asked yesterday for more clarity on thishe state-
ments, Mitchell said: "I said in order to get recipients
into homes quickly the HDC may have to consider
allowing the recipient to occupy a unit with minor
defects with the promise to come and repair those
defects later, minor defects such as a small leak, paint
job, missing roof tiles etc.
"Or, the HDC may consider selling the units with
similar minor defects in 'an as is where is' condi-
tion with the acceptance and the agreement of the
The minister said at present the HDC allocates and
distributes units only where there are no issues of
disrepair or defect and gives the recipient a three-
month period to report any defects subsequent to
He said over the last five the HDC was only con-
cerned with the construction of units at consider-
ably high cost, leaving close to 1,000 units already
constructed, to be vandalised or tofall into various
stages of disrepair.
"These units form part of the HDC's stock and we
need to get them habitable and we need to get fam-
ilies into them or else they will remain unoccupied,
squatters will occupy them or they will continue to
"The HDC, like all other State agencies, has chal-
lenges for funding so we therefore have to come up
with innovative solutions to all of our problems. Those
potential solutions I've identifiedare under consid-
eration. Nothing has been decided."
Moonilal said the construction and refurbishment
of HDC houses stopped over the last 16 months when
the PNM came into power.
After waiting more than ten years for a HDC house a government employee (name
withheld) got an apartment in Oropoune in February. The single woman said she paid a
contractor to reinforce the windows and install burglarproofing.
One month lare, when she went to move into the house, she found it vandalised. There
were gaping holes in the wall where the burglarproofing was pried out. All the electrical
and plumbing fittings were gone.
She did not want a vandalised house and asked the HDC for another apartment in a
safer area but was told she had to wait indefinitely. Six months later she got a unit in an
Arima development and said so far she is safe.
However, prospects of getting a vandalised house sound promising to Christopher
Smart, of Maloney, who has been waiting for close to 20 years for an HDC house. He told
the Guardian he will accept a vandalised unit without hesitation.
Smart, who lives with relatives and is gainfully employed, said: "It might not be the best
but, at the end of the day I would have one foot in the door of a house I can call my own.
The rain would be falling and I would not be getting wet.
"As for those criminals? I will just bring their own retribution on their heads."
OWNER OF VANDALISED HOME SPEAKS OUT
Housing Minister Randall Mitchell.
Dr Roodal Moonilal.
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