Letters & Opinion

Over 600 St Lucians denied owning their homes

By James Edwin

The recent decision by the Minister of Housing in respect to the cancellation of two housing projects is cause for concern but more importantly a time when the entire population needs to stand up against this unlawful and indiscriminate behaviour. 

At this moment, we are not prepared to delve into the nitty gritty details, but we are simply going to address the bigger picture.  Both those projects commenced under the SLP Administration and both projects floundered.  It took an enormous effort on behalf of the UWP administration to arrive at a workable situation to get the projects in motion. The ordinary man does not have an IOTA regarding the cost of development.  As an individual with an extended knowledge of development, there are times when the cost of development per square foot actually exceeds that of raw land.  The question can easily be posed and it is for this reason we wish to highlight those reasons.

First DCA approval must be secured; second the cost of heavy equipment for land development varies from $150 to $1,000 per hour depending upon the nature of the equipment.  Third, proper drainage; four, proper road foundation; five, road finishing by way of concrete or asphalt.  Six, engineering works and surveying of lots; seven – supply of water; eight – supply of electricity; nine – legal fees in financing the project; ten – ensuring boundaries are properly earmarked to satisfy lenders; eleven – total finance charges to be determined in respect to the period of time for the project.  One can rest assured that there are other hidden details which will arise as the development continues.  Glancing around, it is quite obvious to find more persons declaring major losses when it comes to developing and selling lands, hence the reason why the SLP aborted their efforts in developing both the Choc and Talvern Developments.

The National Housing Authority has been a disaster from its inception for the reasons highlighted above but by the same token, Government has a responsibility to ensure that all St Lucians have a stake in their country and by extension to at least own a home.  Some administrations have the required skills to do so while others don’t and quite obviously the SLP don’t qualify when it comes to development.  This has been proven over and over.

The meaningful taxpayers within the country reside within the Chamber of Commerce and the SLHTA, therefore, we are calling on those institutions to call for an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister in an effort to shed some light on the latest decision by the Housing Minister’s apparent unilateral decision.

This is not Government’s money, it is taxpayers hard earned taxes which support all Governments and in that vein, we take this matter seriously.  Fresh Start company consists of a group of honest, responsible and hard working St Lucians who have an incredible track record and who took a decision to face the banks for loans in the millions to develop their country simultaneously putting over one thousand St Lucians to work.  So often in the past, we have seen a series of foreign developers come to our shores and cart away millions in local funds to the chagrin of many persons on island.  Today, we have one of our kind offering a similar service and probably better being dragged through the mud.  Where is our support for our fellow St Lucia entrepreneurs?  So often we get criticized under the banner of incompetence and now we have St Lucian competence being despised.

The two projects presently in jeopardy represent the future homes of over 600 St Lucians being denied of living quarters and business premises within those developments.  For once, St Lucians, let us stand up and defend a worthy cause against the backdrop of politics, power, hatred and discrimination. This would be our first letter to the press but certainly not the last if an immediate response is not forthcoming.

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