Prime Minister Gaston Browne has given assurances that residents of the St. Peter’s constituency will not be marginalised as it relates to benefiting from the government’s housing project currently underway in Paynter’s.
But the PM has made clear that the allocation of housing will depend on persons’ ability to pay for the dwellings they express an interest in purchasing. Browne’s response follows a release to the media by the Member of Parliament for St. Peter, Asot Michael.
The former minister is demanding that his constituents get their fair share of the housing stock after explaining that he has sent hundreds of Antiguans – including civil servants, teachers, firemen, policemen; persons who would qualify for mortgages – to the National Housing Company and there has been no response.
“I don’t expect to get the 170 houses, even to allocate 40 percent of the houses to members of the St. Peter’s constituency, and then the other Members of Parliament and others from across the country. That never happened, and it is very sad, and I am disappointed in my government and my Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party,” Michael said.
Michael also asked Minister of Lands, Maria Bird-Browne, to look into the matter and to ensure that justice prevails for the constituents of St. Peter in the second-round project that is expected to start sometime this year.
“I am not asking for more than we deserve, I am not asking for more than what’s reasonable. I am saying that 20 percent of 170 houses is about 34 houses and that is totally unacceptable that only 34 or 35 houses were allocated to people of the constituency,” the MP said.
In direct response to the claim, PM Browne said he was informed that the MP recommended a number of the individuals who have not been successful in getting the pre-approval necessary for the financing of the homes.
Meanwhile, the former government minister also expressed the frustration he is experiencing in building a modern community center with his own money for the constituency which he represents in Parliament.
“My vision has always been about economic transformation capable of generating the opportunities that will allow constituents to do better for themselves, their families and their loved ones. In this regard, we wanted to build a house of many rooms. The foundation would be the St. Peter’s Trust Foundation, a non-political, non-profit organisation through which we would transform this beautiful town of Parham,” Michael said.
In addition to this, he stated that they received a Cabinet Decision to use 3 acres of land in Parham for a multi-purpose recreation and educational center for the youth as well as the elderly in the constituency.
However, after waiting two-and-a-half years for Cabinet approval of the land, he was recently informed by the Chief Lands Officer to hold off on the land for the multi-purpose education and recreation center.
The MP is reportedly being asked to provide the design concept of the project to justify the additional acreage.
He said while he knows he has to comply, this process will significantly slow down the pace of the construction.
“It is going to put us back probably another three to six months to get the drawings. You know how these architects are in Antigua; they take forever to get it done. We are going to have to do it and comply with the request because this is a project that is extremely important to the people,” Michael said.