Letters & Opinion, Matters On My Mind

Government Gets My Passing Grade for Housing

Saying that the promises made in a political party’s manifesto are simply guidelines to be followed by the party on entering the corridors of governance and not promises the people should hold the party accountable to when in office is nothing but a glib excuse.

I have heard such excuses made several times by supporters of ruling parties. Such supporters are always ready with words to deflect any verbal attack on their party, as they always have glib tongues. However, some of them are insincere and artificial in their loyalty, while others are downright hypocritical and deceitful.

I believe that a political party should not put in its manifesto anything it knows — for a fact –that it cannot accomplish within its first five-year term. Should there be programmes that can be hatched within its first five-year term but completion is expected in the years following the first five-year term, then a political party should say so in its manifesto.

Too many things said by politicians and parties to be achievable during their five-year term in office have turned out to be unrealistic, naïve and in some cases totally out of reach. Nevertheless, these things are placed in these manifestos as achievable within the party’s first five-year term in office.

With this matter weighting on my mind, I was stuck by a breath of fresh air on reading that the government guaranteed an injection of $20 million into the Saint Lucia Development Bank (SLDB) via a Resolution brought before the House of Assembly two weeks ago.

The Resolution was all about government guaranteeing a loan “from the National Development Corporation to the Saint Lucia Development Bank for on-lending to the housing and productive sectors.”

Saint Lucians through such an instrument can now get financing — I hope at a reasonable interest rate — to construct or expand and renovate their homes.

This move, coupled with others by the government to build low and middle-income houses in certain localities for persons within certain income brackets, speaks directly to the promises the UWP made in its 2016 Manifesto.

I do criticize governments – including this one — but I am not one who criticizes unfairly or just for the sake of criticizing. On the housing portfolio, I give this government a passing grade due to the fact that its stewardship on housing to date is in line with the promises made in its 2016 Manifesto under the section ‘Housing’.

There is no doubt that home-ownership plays a key role in not only stimulating economic activity in several sectors of the economy, but it also gives people pride in themselves, gives them that positive psychological feeling that augurs well for higher-living-standards development, that augurs well for country — and in looking after each other.

I take the opportunity to encourage government to see only Saint Lucians when distributing housing stock more equitably across the country. I do sincerely hope that it will not further divide Saint Lucians into red and yellow camps as it goes about dishing out land-ownership to deserving potential homeowners and in upgrading houses in all areas, especially in deprived ones.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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