31st January 2019 Contribution-
Debate the Resolution to acquire 1.267 acres of land situated at the junction of Romer and Armbrister Street., Fox Hill
Senator, Hon., J.L. Coleby-Davis- Opposition Senator and Shadow
Attorney General, Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, and Youth
Madame President, as always, I am grateful to God and thank him for another opportunity to present in this place.
Madame President, if you would bid me a moment to inquire, I have been asked by a group of Bahamians in Grand Bahamas to query with Sen Thompson and Sen Darius on the status of their benefits owed to them. There are about 60 persons who were laid off from Urban Renewal two years ago, all of them received letters advising entitlement to their benefits and to this day they have yet to receive anything. Madame President, times are tough for many Bahamians, and I understand in Grand Bahama the economy is on the downturn making it even more difficult to make ends meet. So, I would like some answers as to when these persons can expect to receive their benefits?
Madame President, I rise today to contribute to the Resolution, and I do not intend to be before you long. I wish to commend this Government for continuing to keep the name of the subdivision in honour of the first MP for Fox Hill, Mr. Lionel Davis who is the grandfather of my husband.
Madame President, every time we come into this place, I come with a hope and anticipation that the Bahamian people will get something beneficial and worthwhile. Something that they can actually thank this government for. However, yet again we are making a big ordeal over little to nothing. In this country we presently have hundreds if not thousands of persons waiting on the opportunity to be home owners, and the only solution this FNM Government can come up with is service lots? Not just service lots Madame President, but lots on 1.2 acres of land, so essentially, we are talking about some 10 lots.
Now let’s consider this Madame President, it is my understanding that the housing waiting list is in excess of 7,000, but almost two years later, all this FNM Government could show is that they offered 30 serviced lots? What is also unique about this inept Government is that they are in this place and the other place bragging about teaching a man to fish, by only providing service lots instead of building homes. Whilst their program to sell the lots to Bahamians, leave the Bahamian to the market to find a suitable contractor. Now is that really benefiting those persons that truly want to be homeowners, knowing the headache and cost overruns that usually occurs during construction. The PLP realized it is best to offer turnkey homes, because of the significant risk associated with self-building. Despite the duty-free concessions, there is still a number of issues that result during construction that many persons may not be financially able to manage.
Madame President, the FNM Government housing programme is woefully inadequate, under resourced, if not non- existent. It is shameful that just last year the Housing Minister advised of how the majority of Bahamians who applied for their service lot programme could not qualify.
Well what did he expect, when there has been absolutely no growth in the economy since May 2017 and an increase in taxes on the backs of the Bahamian people. Madame President, I notice that the FNM has this unfortunate way of glorying in the misfortunes of its citizens, trying to make things seem like a great deal when it’s not. Instead, the Minister be creating ways to assist and work with Bahamian applicant to ensure that they do qualify.
Madame President, I also find it amusing what the FNM is promoting. Their announcement is in fact that of a PLP project designed and approved before the 2017 General Election. This subdivision isn’t nothing new under the sun, there was always a plan to name the subdivision after the former MP Lionel Davis, however, it was never the intention of the PLP to sell service lots.
Madame President, I continually warn this FNM Government that their programme is flawed. I still do not believe that applicants who needed affordable housing would have the resources to take advantage of service lots. And it doesn’t matter how many times they flip this programme and how they boast, the programme unless revamped to be turn key, will continue to fall short of the mark.
The FNM must go back to the drawing board. They can simply go to the files and follow the blueprints left by the PLP, because that is the only way the Bahamian people will get real relief!
Madame President, this FNM government must realize that they are running out of time to make good on their promises and plans (if any) to the Bahamian people. I mean after two years of this FNM Government, they still have absolutely nothing to show by way of housing development or any sort of development for that matter.
Imagine the audacity and heartlessness of a government who against the backdrop just described would get up in Parliament and talk about an alternative strategy for housing.
Madame President, the announcement would not have been so insulting to Bahamians if they had announced the development of maybe 10-15 acres of land for private sale but no, the announcement involves 10 lots on less than 1.5 acres. One intriguing question, Madame President, and I would love to hear this answer. How will ten lots be sold to hundreds of persons waiting for a home. How will the financing of the purchase and the construction of the homes be affected? How?
This is an insult to the Bahamian people, many of whom have been waiting for years to obtain a Government subsidized house. These families cannot go to the market place where real estate cost are exorbitant and continuing to escalate. This is disgraceful.
If any further proof is needed that the FNM Government is taking our country backwards, one should look no further than this flawed “serviced lots” programme which has rolled back on some 55 years of Government subsidized housing for ordinary Bahamians.
Madame President, housing remains to be one of the greatest challenges facing the Bahamian people, middle and lower class. This FNM Government can sugar coat this flawed programme all they want; however, it is becoming evident to the Bahamian people that the FNM is completely clueless as to the challenges and solutions.
Although I support this Resolution in principle, I find the programme to be very vague and difficult to fully understand the government’s full plan.