National Housing Trust (NHT) – Managing Director of the National Housing Trust (NHT), Cecile Watson, has stated that the establishment of an NHT Foundation to fund a range of projects beneficial to the nation, will not adversely affect the organization's normal housing development and loans programmes.
According to Mrs. Watson, the Trust will maintain its plans to spend $25 billion to provide 8,574 new housing solutions in this financial year, and will be spending over $127 billion to provide housing solutions over the next four years.
In addition, Mrs. Watson said that the Trust has budgeted $2.5 billion for contributions refunds in 2011/2012, and is projecting to refund $10 billion in the following three years. These levels are in accordance with its normal operational volumes.
Mrs. Watson's comments provided critical operational details, following on Prime Minister, The Hon. Bruce Golding‘s announcement on Tuesday (May 10) that, as its 35th anniversary gift to the nation, the NHT will fund a Foundation to support projects that are in the public interest. Among the activities to be supported by the Foundation are, improvements of living conditions for national luminaries who have represented Jamaica internationally, and also for nationals housed in state-run institutions such as infirmaries, golden age homes and children's homes.
The Foundation will receive a start-up grant of $600 million, representing approximately 50 percent of refundable NHT contributions that are unclaimed for over 10 years. In subsequent years, additional funds will be granted to the foundation, as more unclaimed contributions age beyond 10 years.
Responding to queries about the implications of the new initiative for contributors who have deliberately left their refunds with the NHT as part of their retirement plans, Mrs. Watson gave assurances that the NHT will continue to honour its obligation to refund contributions, once they are due and applications are received.
"Our annual refunds budget takes into consideration that some of the claims outstanding for ten years or more will eventually materialize. As persons apply for those sums, they will be paid. That continues to be part of our core business," she said.
She also explained that the money to be allocated to the Foundation was derived from a portion of those funds that the NHT estimates will never be claimed for various reasons. To support the Trust's estimate, Mrs. Watson pointed out that in 2010, of the $1 billion in refunds unclaimed for over ten years applications were received for only $1.5 million. So far this year, having passed the height of the refunds application period, just under $1.2 million has been paid from that category.
She expects that the work of the Foundation will not only benefit the targeted recipients, many of whom are retired NHT contributors now in institutional care but, through the use of local labour and materials, economic activity will be stimulated in the communities where the institutions are located.
The NHT Foundation will be managed by the Trust, but will be governed by a separate board comprising representatives of the church, trade unions, the private and public sectors. This board will examine proposals and determine how funds are to be allocated in accordance with pre-established criteria.
Contact: National Housing Trust