Mon | Jan 22, 2018

I support PM’s reforms at NHT

Published:Tuesday | May 31, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Lest it be lost in the din, I am exercising the privilege, once again, of the columns of your newspaper, to say something this time of the efforts of the National Housing Trust (NHT) board, over which I presided from April 2015, to make housing more available and affordable for as many of its contributors as possible than it otherwise would have been.

These included:

1. Increasing the loan ceiling from $4.5 million to $5.5 million for new applicants accessing construction-type loans and loans for purchases in new developments up to April 1, 2017 (at which time the matter would be reviewed). This policy was approved after a five-year hiatus and after consultation with developers as a necessary measure to encourage them to invest in housing, as they would not be doing so if this were not done, as there would be significantly fewer buyers.

2. The lowering of interest rates for certain income categories by one percentage point for all new loan applicants and maintain the one-percentage-point advantage for public-sector workers as per their income categories. The recent measures announced by the prime minister have built on this as a means of making housing solutions more affordable; and I, personally, support these initiatives and hope that more contributors will be able to own a home.

3. We announced a 9,000-housing-solution programme and advertised it in various media, including, more than once, in both daily newspapers by way of coloured maps showing the locations of the proposed developments. I saw a recent report on the progress that had been made in respect of this programme to date.

4. Not publicly announced, but clearly indicated by me in an appearance before a parliamentary committee of the House of Representatives, was a proposal to amend the law to enable the NHT to make some investments, under strictly defined conditions, including financial limits, to improve housing and related infrastructure for persons who may not be contributors or even if they are unable to secure mortgage financing from the NHT.

Some sporadic efforts have been made in this regard from time to time, but investments by NHT in them have been ultra vires, as the current law speaks specifically of benefits for contributors. The matter went to the previous Cabinet, but it is my understanding that this matter was deferred for consideration after the general election. I hope the present Government follows up on it and considers this particular proposal favourably.


Former NHT Chairman