Oropouche East MP knocks proposed restructuring of HDC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, a row of HDC homes ready for distribution at Real Sping Housing Development, in Valsayn South. – ROGER JACOB

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is questioning plans to restructure the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to form three different companies in the delivery of state-subsided homes.

In a statement, Moonlial, a former housing minister, claimed this move was further evidence of Government’s incompetence.

“All the public-private partnerships programmes started have crashed, and the Rowley regime did not introduce a single new or innovation measure of its own to ramp up home construction.”

He boasted under the People’s Partnership in 2014, the HDC was distributing 100 new houses per week and would have continued that pattern were it still in office.

“The scheme of remaking the HDC is another slipshod move by the Government to appear to be active and to mask its ineptitude in the provision of public housing.”

“This ‘breaking up of state enterprises’ model is doomed to failure and will lead to further unemployment and poverty.”

He did not see a reorganised HDC, as outlined by Robinson-Regis, doing anything to ease the housing backlog in TT or improve people’s quality of life.

At a key distribution ceremony at the HDC’s Carlton Place apartment towers in San Fernando on August 22, Housing and Urban Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said Cabinet is currently considering reorganising the HDC to ensure more efficient delivery of housing to people who need it most.

While the HDC’s mandate has always been to provide affordable housing for people most in need of it, Robinson-Regis lamented the company had lost its way and strayed from its original moorings between 2010 and 2015 under the People’s Partnership.

“Suddenly. It stopped building homes for single mothers and fathers who were doing everything possible to provide a safe space and community for their children to call home.”

Since returning to office in September 2015, Robinson-Regis said it is the PNM’s mandate to return the HDC to its original moorings.

After consultations with HDC’s board of directors and management; the Public Services Association (PSA) and National Union of Government and Federated Workers’ Union (NUGFW)- which represent the HDC’s workers; former attorney general (now Rural Development and Local Government Minister) Faris Al-Rawi and his successor Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, a proposal to re-structure the HDC was taken to Cabinet.

Under this proposal, Robinson-Regis said, “HDC’s body corporate will continue to exist. However, it will be reorganised in such a manner that it will be a holding company which will continued to be governed by a board (of directors).

Three subsidiary companies will be formed within this new organisational structure.

* HDC Construction Company Ltd which will manage all elements of HDC’s property development, including land acquisition, urban planning, project and construction management and provision of financing solutions to undertake construction projects.

*HDC Facilities Estate Management Company Ltd. This company’s mandate will include the maintenance of rental housing units and partnering with local government corporations and other external entities to promote and upkeep sustainable communities.

* HDC Asset Management Company Ltd. which will complete the sale of completed housing units and to continue to manage and provide administrative support for housing developments under its purview until they are handed over to HDC purchasers.and Federated Workers Union (NUGFW)- which represent the HDC’s workers; former attorney general (now Rural Development and Local Government Minister) Faris Al-Rawi and his successor Attorney General Reginald Armour SC, a proposal to reorganise the HDC for greater efficiency is now before Cabinet for consideration.

Under this proposal, Robinson-Regis said, “HDC’s body corporate will continue to exist. However it will be reorganised in such a manner that it will be a holding company which will continued to be governed by a board (of directors).

Three subsidiary companies will be formed within this new organisational structure.

The first is the HDC Construction Company Ltd which will manage all elements of HDC’s property development, including land acquisition, urban planning, project and construction management and provision of financing solutions to undertake construction projects.

Next is the HDC Facilities Estate Management Company Ltd. This company’s mandate will include the maintenance of rental housing units and partnering with local government corporations and other external entities to promote and upkeep sustainable communities.

The final company is the HDC Asset Management Company Ltd. which will complete the sale of completed housing units and to continue to manage and provide administrative support for housing developments under its purview until they are handed over to HDC purchasers.

Robinson-Regis was confident that once these changes were implemented, the population’s perception of the HDC would be significantly better.

She also said the PSA and NUGFW have pledged to work with Government in transforming the HDC and this exercise will not see any job losses at the company.

“We do not intend for there to be any job losses.”

HDC RESTRUCTURING A COVER-UP OF INCOMPETENCE

The announced plans of restructuring the Housing Development Corporation once more illustrate the raw incompetence of the Rowley Government.

Over the past seven years, the Government failed to deliver to a country with a crippling housing shortage.

All the Public-Private Partnerships programmes started have crashed, and the Rowley regime did not introduce a single new or innovation measure of its own to ramp up home construction.

I remind the country that the People’s Partnership administration was distributing 100 homes per week by 2014 with a clear plan to maintain that rate of distribution until 2018. We did this although we inherited a billion dollar debt in 2010 and had to nurse to life over 20 sick projects from the PNM era.

Instead of continuing the good work of the Partnership, the PNM Government focused on litigating its contractors, using scarce public funds for costly and dead-end legal suits. This government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on court cases rather than building homes and distributing to the deserving.

The scheme of remaking the HDC is another slipshod move by the Government to appear to be active and to mask its ineptitude in the provision of public housing. This “breaking up of state enterprises” model is doomed to failure and will lead to further unemployment and poverty.

This latest declaration of reorganising the public housing agency would do nothing in easing the huge backlog and improving the quality of life of Trinidadians and Tobagonians.

The measure comes straight from the well-known PNM playbook of covering up its incompetence, offering excuses, and failing to account to taxpayers. This will have the same success rate as the Border Protection Agency touted since 2015.