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Moonilal: $6b for Housing Ministry

By \\\\\ Juhel Browne CCN Senior Multimedia Journalist

Housing and Urban Development Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal is requesting an allocation for the ministry under his portfolio for the fiscal year 2015, which is over $3 billion more than the $2.7 billion allocation it received in the last fiscal year.


“The Ministry of Housing has asked for $6 billion in the next Bugdet for our accelerated housing programme,” Moonilal said in a story aired on the TV6 News last night.

It is only when Finance Minister Larry Howai delivers the 2014/2015 budget presentation in the Parliament on Monday will the nation know if Moonilal’s request will become the largest allocation in the upcoming budget.

“It’s the largest asking in the country’s history. We also have in our Ministry as you know UDeCOTT (the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad & Tobago), EMBDC (Estate Management Business Development Company), CEPEP (Community Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme). So the Ministry as a whole has asked for $6 billion of which 50 per cent of that should go towards accelerated housing,” Moonilal said.

In the 2013/2014 budget the largest allocation went to education and training - $9.82 billlion while the National Security Ministry received $6.497 billion.

In an interview with TV6 News, People’s National Movement (PNM) public relations officer Faris Al-Rawi did not address any anticipated allocation for any specific ministry but criticised the P-P administration for its overall expenditure pattern.

“We certainly don’t expect this to be anything other than an election budget and the question for sensible people in Trinidad & Tobago is going to be how much food you can eat? This is an ‘eat ah food’ Government. People are told just eat ah food, stay quiet,” Al-Rawi said.

Ironically the PNM while in Opposition has criticised the Government for the length of time it is taking to distribute housing units built during the previous PNM administration.

Moonilal said the Government cannot distribute those houses without fixing them.

“We have spent over $100 million repairing the shoddy bad work done by the former administration in housing. It is a shame and disgrace that people get a house and they come back to see me two weeks later with a list of 75 defects,” Moonilal said.

He was asked about those Housing Development Corporation (HDC) recipients who have had to undertake repairs the housing units they received by spending money out of their own pockets.

“In some cases they have to because the time may have passed where we can legally be obliged to fix housing units because remember when you purchase a house it becomes yours. So we are, you know, we are not obliged to fix your property unless the defects are picked up early when we hand you over (the housing unit) or at the point of preparing the house distribution,” Moonilal said.

Moonilal said the ministry under his tenure has distributed over 7,000 housing units in the past four years and has constructed new ones.

Also speaking with Independent Liberal Party (ILP) founder Jack Warner, a former member of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet, expressed concerns about the amount of state funds being allocated to the ministry Moonilal is responsible for.

“Every big budget in this country from UDeCOTT to Invaders Bday from HDC to EMBD every big budget in this country is under Moonilal but I’ll say more about this in the budget debate,”

That debate begins next Friday when Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley responds to the budget presentation.

Al-Rawi expressed the PNM’s position that the Government is “long on revenue and short on expenditure.”

“There’s no sense of reasonableness or proportion in their mind. They intend to indebt Trinidad & Tobago to put it into indebtedness at record levels,” Al-Rawi said.
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