KINGSTON — Opposition spokesperson on Finance, Dr. Omar Davies, has suggested that the National Housing Trust (NHT) be used as a proactive instrument islandwide, in creating employment and stimulating economic activity.
He added that there is no other sector of the economy which is able to impact on economic activity more than the construction industry.
“For one, it employs a variety of persons across all skill levels. For two, the multiplier effect is tremendous. When engineers, architects, masons, carpenters, welders, are working, there is a general higher level of economic activity,” Dr. Davies said.
The Opposition Spokesperson was making his contribution to the 2011/12 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives Tuesday.
Dr. Davies also proposed that the NHT’s capital programme for 2011/12 be revamped, and concentrate on small schemes, using small contractors, instead.
“In every parish, we should see clear signs of NHT activity with housing units geared to the lower and middle income workers. There is a demand for such units, and this demand will not be met by private sector activity on its own,” Dr. Davies stated.
He also recommended that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) be used, in resort areas, to carry out small projects which would simultaneously enhance communities, improve the tourism product and provide employment.
Dr. Davies noted that TEF collections were decreasing, despite an increase in visitor arrivals. He said the explanation given was that low cost carriers had found a way to avoid paying the cess/tax by booking two one- way tickets.
“What is imperative is that, as a matter of urgency, we deal with that development, so that the Fund can truly reflect payment by each visitor. And we can use the proceeds of that fund on beautifying tourism communities and creating employment in a transparent manner, with each project subject to audit and accountability,” Dr. Davies said.
The 2011/12 budget debate continues on today, with contributions from Minister of Transport and Works, Hon Mike Henry, and Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine, Natalie Neita-Headley.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter