NHDC to be Re-Organised


Water and Housing Minister, Dr. Horace Chang has announced plans to revamp the operations of the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), in order to transform it into a viable organization.
This announcement comes against the background of reports of heavy losses being incurred by the agency annually, in the management and execution of Operation PRIDE.
Operation PRIDE was created to legitimize informal community settlements through collaborative efforts incorporating residents, working through provident societies, and the government, through the relevant Ministry responsible for housing development. Some 94 informal settlements across the island were earmarked for development under the programme.
Journalists were told at today’s (March 19) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, that the NHDC’s annual report for the 2006/07 fiscal year, which was presented to Cabinet, showed that the “financial position of the agency had worsened, with loss before taxation increasing by 86 per cent.”
Elaborating on this, Dr. Chang said the figures released for this year showed the NHDC losing some $646.4 million. This, he pointed out, was consequent on the loss of some $8.5 billion since its inception in the late 1990s.
“The concept was one that was laudable..to upgrade the informal settlements, and to do so through community-based organizations. It was in the administration of this that we got into a situation of a lack of transparency, sometimes, corruption, and incompetence. Some $8.5 billion was spent on the programme, most of which we cannot recover,” the Minister said.
Noting that some of the developments had been completed, and that some of the money had been recovered, the Minister said the Ministry was still receiving correspondence from individuals indicating that they had made payments, which could not be accounted for, particularly in Greenfield sites.
“We have cauterized that; we have stopped doing those programmes that are in that kind of situation. And, what we have to do now is to look at how we continue to bring improvements to these settlements without this kind of management. And the NHDC will be re-organized to assist in the programme and to lead the way, but it will need a whole new approach, in terms of informal settlement. It is the intention of the government to re-organize the NHDC to be more a provider of technical and management services,” Dr. Chang outlined.
He also disclosed that the Ministry and the agency were looking at the possibility of taking legal action in the matter.
“We actually have one case in court for overpayments, and there are seven others, that, if the evidence could be put together, they could go to court. The NHDC Board has taken a decision to do forensic audits of a number of the projects. And, therefore, it should be able to get some more hard evidence that we can bring to the public and possibly court,” the Minister said.

JIS Social