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Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has announced plans to abolish the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC).
Dr. Chang was delivering the main address at the Incorporated Master Builders Association of Jamaica’s (IMAJ) seminar entitled: ‘The Revised Standard Form of Building Contract’, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on September 9.
The seminar was organised in collaboration with the Jamaica Institute of Quantity Surveyors, and the Construction Industry Council.
“We will basically be abolishing the National Housing Development Corporation for a new agency to focus on development,” Dr. Chang explained.
“We reviewed the past activities of that agency, as the way it was designed has not only created problems, but has also built up the kind of reputation that makes it very difficult to operate out there. We would like to correct some of the untidy operations of the NHDC,” he pointed out.
These ‘untidy activities,’ he said, included people not being paid for work done on behalf of the Ministry, creating a situation where people did not want to do any work with the Ministry of Housing. He said that his Ministry was in the process of reviewing its agencies.
The Minister said that the NHDC was conceptualised as the development arm of the Ministry, but has not fulfilled that function.
“The best thing to do is to abolish the NHDC, start over, and create a unit that we feel comfortable with. The NHDC was very busy with what was called the PRIDE Programme, which became a classic pork barrel situation, and money was just poured down the drain. The reputation of the agency was damaged, as was the reputation of professionals in the area of supervision and contract management. This was the only area of Government where attempts were made to by-pass the Government’s procurement procedure, which needs to be looked at,” Dr. Chang said.
He admitted that these procurement procedures need to be looked at as they have become “very tedious”, time consuming, and result in increased building costs. He said a way must be found to cut down on the time it takes to procure items, while at the same time maintaining integrity and transparency.
The NHDC was incorporated in April 1998, as a result of the merger of the Caribbean Housing Finance Corporation, the National Housing Corporation, and Operation PRIDE (Programme for Resettlement and Integrated Development Enterprises).
The Corporation was established to undertake housing development and to stimulate the housing market. The company’s mandate includes both economic and social objectives, which address the need to be a financially profitable and economically viable organisation, while providing housing for the commercial open market as well as low cost housing solutions.