Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that the National Housing Trust (NHT) has been fine-tuned, with operations at the entity now tantamount to what exists in a well-run financial institution.
The governance structure, he pointed out, is equivalent to a financial Board
with the expertise necessary to act responsibly.
“We tend to ignore the importance of governance in the management of a business. When a business such as the NHT has several billion dollars in trust we have to be careful with what we do with it,” Mr. Holness pointed out.
He was speaking at the breaking of ground on Wednesday (October 24) to commence work on phase one of the Friendship Oaks Housing Development in Goshen, St. Elizabeth.
The Prime Minister has long maintained that the NHT should function like a financial institution and last year informed that steps were being taken to improve the management and governance structures.
“There are some people who see the NHT as a social enterprise; there are some who see it as a housing development agency; and then there are others who see it as a funding agency. I, however, see it as a bank,” he said.
“If we don’t run the NHT like a bank, the (agency) will not be able to deliver, as it has, on the demands and the requirements we have placed on them,” he contended.
The Prime Minister said he is satisfied with how the agency has been undertaking its functions and would be able to effectively carry out its fiduciary responsibilities and meet the standards of a financial institution.
He noted further that it is important that requests made to the entity are heavily scrutinised, so as to ensure that mandates are not breached.
“So, if we don’t scrutinise, you could end up breaching your own policy guidelines and direction and this is where governance is important. This is why a Board is there to say ‘this is the mandate of the NHT’. If the request does match the mandate, then we can assist. If the answer is no, then it is no,” he said.
The Friendship Oaks Housing Development is being undertaken by the NHT on 36.8 hectares (91 acres) of land , located approximately 11.5km (7.15 miles) south-east of Santa Cruz.
The project involves two phases, with the first segment to include 229 serviced lots, with 4.8 hectares of land allotted for commercial use.