Realising dreams

Since the PPP/C Government was returned to office in August this year, it has hit the ground running, with many of the development plans it had outlined in its manifesto being implemented. Housing has been one of the areas in which the PPP/C has scored very big, as the dreams of ordinary Guyanese, to have their own homes, are becoming a reality.
The Housing Ministry has commenced a series of outreaches across the country in a programme dubbed “Dream Realised”, the latest of which was held on Tuesday at Leonora. The Dream Realised initiative is the brainchild of President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali. It has been reported that approximately 3500 house lots have already been distributed. From the reaction of the public towards this initiative, it is clear that the demand for house lots is great, and much more would have to be done by the authorities to meet this demand.
During the opening of the event on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mark Phillips outlined that providing affordable housing for the Guyanese people is high on the Government’s agenda. The two-day exercise at Leonora will see a total of 1500 house lots being delivered by the Ministry of Housing and Water’s Central Housing and Planning Authority.
The Government’s ambitious housing plan includes the distribution of at least 50,000 house lots within its first term in office. It could be recalled that, prior to 1992, this level of optimism among young people, and citizens in general, to own their own homes, was unheard of, as it was very difficult to acquire a plot of land. In addition to having to deal with a very difficult bureaucracy, there was simply a lack of vision on the part of the then PNC Government in relation to housing development. It was the same situation during the APNU/AFC tenure in Government, from May 2015 to August 2020.
This has now been changed, as the present administration’s policies on housing development make it much easier for one to own their own home. The transformation currently being experienced in the housing sector is one that every Guyanese citizen can boast of. In fact, nowhere else in the Caricom region is this level of development being experienced in housing.
Most would agree that while there were tremendous achievements made in the areas of education, health care delivery, improvement in social services etc, the gains made in Guyana’s housing sector have surpassed all others. Under the PPP/C Administration, thousands of Guyanese families have received house lots across the country. A number of new housing schemes have been (and are being) developed. On those areas developed, the Government has spent huge amounts of money for infrastructural works. In fact, these house lots that are being awarded are highly subsidised, as Government’s intention is to ensure that lands are made available for every single category of individual.
Prior to the PPP/C Government being changed in 2015, it had hosted a number of “One Stop Shops” wherein persons’ applications for house lots were fast-tracked. This served to cut through all the ‘red tape’ that one faces when an application for a plot of land is made. Also, the criteria for land ownership were greatly relaxed. Further, the banks had made it easier for persons to access loans for construction. Prior to the housing boom, one had to satisfy a number of criteria before one could have accessed a loan to build a house. Today this has changed, as the banks offer loans at very affordable interest rates to low- and moderate-income earners. This was as a result of the Public-Private Partnership developed between the Government and the commercial banks, to make it easier for persons to own their own homes.
Every Guyanese desires to become a home-owner, and we are pleased that the Government is making the necessary investments in the housing sector to make this a reality. The vision for housing development in this country is indeed extraordinary, and commendations must go to the key players – the Government and the Private Sector – for helping to transform the lives of thousands of Guyanese citizens.
Certainly, there are many challenges to overcome, as there are quite a number of applicants who are still awaiting word from the Ministry in regard to the status of their applications. The Government is on the right track with the “Dream Realised” initiative, which we believe would serve to eliminate the bureaucracy that citizens are forced to endure in acquiring a house lot.