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'Land for the landless'

More opportunities for home ownership

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

Plans to provide citizens with greater opportunities for home ownership have been revealed by Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, who delivered the national budget yesterday.

Government plans include reduced mortgage rates, a new land for the landless programme and squatter regularisation.

Of the $54. 6 billion budget yesterday delivered by Dookeran, $1.97 billion has been provided to Housing.

"There is no doubt that housing is a critical component to the quality of life for our citizenry and as such the Government remains fully committed to the provision of quality housing to our citizens," Dookeran said.

In order to make home ownership more affordable to middle income earners, "Government has decided through the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Limited to provide mortgages at reduced interest rates," Dookeran said.

"Mortgage rates which are currently at six to eight per cent will be reduced to five to seven per cent," he said.

The reduced mortgage rate which will become effective next year is expected to benefit over 13,000 homeowners, Dookeran said.

Government is also considering the introduction of a "Land for the Landless" programme, Dookeran said.

"The Government will give successful applicants a foundation base and the opportunity to construct a two- or three-bedroom unit," he said.

Approximately 10,000 applicants are expected to benefit from the programme annually, Dookeran said.

A "Neighbourhood Upgrading" programme aimed at improving the living condition of low and middle income groups, will also assist in affordable home ownership, Dookeran said.

"The main components include squatters' regularisation, a new housing and home improvements subsidy and sector and institutional strengthening," he said.

Approximately 3,000 families are expected to benefit from the squatter regularisation, Dookeran said. Families will be relocated where regularisation is not feasible, he said.

The new home purchase or construction subsidy has also been increased.

"The new home purchase or construction subsidy will be up to a maximum of $50,000 per eligible household for homes costing $200,000 in Trinidad and $220,000 in Tobago," Dookeran said.

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