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|Ali promises exciting times ahead for infrastructural development|
|Sunday, 03 June 2012 20:42|
-- new roads, new housing schemes in the pipeline
THE housing sector is poised for further advancement with several development targets and plans; and Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, has said, “We must ensure that the environment is right for the continuous growth and expansion of the building and construction sector.” Speaking Friday at the launch of the Third International Building Exposition at the Princess Hotel at Providence, East Bank Demerara, Minister Ali said, “We believe that, indeed, the private sector is the engine of growth, and the private sector has indeed taken the leadership role in promoting and advancing the Building Expo, and I think the private sector ought to be congratulated.”
Minister Ali noted, “We must ensure that the environment is right for the continuous growth and expansion of the building and construction sector.”
The government, he said, has advanced the housing sector through the incentives it has given to the banking sector, thus “enabling more persons to access loans and loan resources.”
Building Expo 2012 is to be staged under the theme “Embracing Standards – Building the Future’, from July 6 to 8 at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
He alluded to Private Sector Commission (PSC), Chairman Ramesh Dookhoo, who delivered brief remarks highlighting the challenges the construction sector is facing in terms of materials management and availability.
In this regard, he complimented the private sector entities who would have taken the bold step in modernizing their own operations and introducing new products and methods to the market. “As Guyanese, I know we are accustomed to the solid greenheart and the strong concrete walls; but the world is not static, the world is changing around us, and we will have to accept that there will be changes. And some of these changes deliver the same or equal result, and sometimes better results,” he said.
He said the Housing and Water Ministry would have to ensure it educates the consumers and population on those available alternatives that are “practical and can be replicated right here in Guyana.”
“This is one of the core functions of the building expo,” the Housing and Water Minister highlighted.
The issue of value-added, he said, is a big one, especially in the logging industry.
He noted, “Perhaps, it is an important time for us to assess the segment of the economy that is doing well, and how we divert the excess liquidity from that segment to other sectors in the economy to ensure that the money remains here, the investment remains here, and future growth sectors can appear.”
He suggested that, maybe, the ministry needed to bring together a special forum with the miners, and explore with them all the possibilities here in Guyana, with incentives from the government.
He agreed that government must create that enabling environment to motivate excess capital from this sector into other sectors, so that the economy can be broadened and “we can truly talk about value added and advancing our product”. Minister Ali said he thinks that the suggestion of having a ‘think tank’, by the PSC Chairman, around this matter is one that has a lot of merit.
The building and construction sector, as they advance into the future, would require the government and the private sector to look at the fiscal incentive schemes, he pointed out.
“We need to continue the aggressive, strategic and sensible infrastructure expansion and spending that the government has embarked on,” he also highlighted.
Ali noted that from the last Building Expo to now, the ministry has had an expanded public/private partnership with more than 15 private sector partners in the housing sector.
He said those private developers together would have spent more than US$17M last year in the housing sector alone, while the government spent more than $9B.
Alluding to the partnership with professional groups, he said it has been taken outside government and they have embarked on a partnership with young professionals of Banks DIH, and are talking with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) and the New Building Society (NBS), among other banking entities.
“We are going to work to advance our partnership with corporate partners, especially in the market of starter-homes,” he stated.
“A country like us requires a Materials Management Unit where we can have a good estimate of annual demand, a good estimate of what is supplied locally and regionally, so that we can make, very early in the year, strong cases to CARICOM where we need extra-regional import to bridge the gap,” he said.
“I think that is something that has a lot of merit, and we must work on,” the Housing and Water Minister maintained.
“Our next five years as a government would see the development of a further 30,000 house lots from the housing sector,” the minister announced.
This launching event saw the attendance of His Excellency, President Donald Ramotar, and members of the private sector, including corporate sponsors.
Specifically addressing President Ramotar, Minister Ali said: “This year, Mr. President, we wish to assure you that we are not going to shy away from our target, regardless of any circumstances that may seem before us. There is nothing that is going to stop us in the Ministry of Housing from accomplishing that 6,500 new house lots that you have set,” he assured.
The Housing and Water Minister disclosed that the ministry was commencing the process of bridging the East Coast of Demerara with the East Bank of Demerara through the backlands.
“We have started that with our investment on the East Bank, where we have opened up more than 5,000 acres of land. We have already distributed more than 2,500 house lots, and we are working presently on a further 2,000 house lots,” he outlined.
In addition, he said, the Housing Ministry has already distributed more than 40 industrial and commercial plots in that area.
“Very quietly, we have opened up a road 25 feet wide on the third entrance of the stadium to the first cross dam, so all we have to do now is build the collectors lane from Diamond to the East Coast, and we are already connected to the other main highway,” he explained.
Additionally, he said the Ministry has commenced the expansion at Ogle and Cummings Lodge/Industry, East Coast Demerara in a way to link it up with Eccles and Herstelling on the East Bank Demerara.
“The road cost and the bridging is about $150M, and we are presently in the process of designing that,” he informed the gathering.
He also disclosed that, over the last two weeks, the ministry has been engaging four Trinidadian companies, one of which is interested in signing an agreement to build and finance houses, and is hoping to work directly with the professional groups and the middle-income market.
Another huge plan, he said, is to build an entirely new community, and the area the ministry was looking to target is the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.
He reminded that the building codes were launched, and he warned that the ministry was going to commence a strict process of implementing those codes.
“Your investment in the building and construction sector would bear profit, and you should look towards this sector for expansion and growth,” he reassured.
PSC Chairman, Ramesh Dookhoo, in his brief remarks, recognised that the Building Expo has been growing from strength to strength each year, and he congratulated Minister Ali and his staff for their hard work.
He said the private sector has worked with this ministry over the years to stage this exhibition, and the amount of money expended by the private sector is sizeable.
“I want to encourage all members of the private sector to continue to support this Building Expo, and to support the building boom that is taking place in Guyana,” he encouraged.
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