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Clarke urges investment in affordable housing

Published:Saturday | June 1, 2019 | 12:06 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke is urging Jamaicans who are looking to invest to pay some attention to building affordable homes for Jamaicans.

Addressing the 64th annual awards ceremony of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce at Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort last week Saturday night, Clarke said there is a great demand for affordable houses.

“Homeownership is becoming a possibility for more and more Jamaicans in a way that few would have imagined before,” Clarke stated.

“The National Housing Trust has built, so far, more houses in the last three years than has been built in any three-year period, and the houses that they’re building are houses that are accessible by ordinary Jamaican people, and right here in this northern coast of Jamaica, they plan to make sure that there are houses built for those who work in the tourist industry who can access, with the mortgage available, with the interest rates available and with the terms available, their own home.

“The demand is great. Recently, 1,500 of those homes came to market in Montego Bay, and there were over 10,000 applications. So anybody who is thinking about a business to go in, the business of providing affordable homes for everyday Jamaicans, this is an area of unbounded demand, and the financing is available.” he said.

Clarke reiterated the government’s commitment to establishing “institutional pillars” that can provide a foundation to continue the period of economic growth.

Noting that he had never spoken on certain topics in St Ann, the minister recapped several of the issues he spoke about in parliament, including the abolition of several taxes and the divestment of Wigton Windfarm.

The banquet saw 10 awardees being presented with citations for work in their respective areas.

The recipients of the awards were Godfrey McDonald, retired principal – Education Award; Jodianne Murdock, CEO/co-founder, Zedoj Events – Young Entrepreneur Award; Dr Neville Gallimore, former minister of government – Citizen’s Award; Sheila Movery of Sheila’s Homemade Pastries – Special Award; Mr Joshua Jhamnani of Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Record, Ocho Rios – President’s Award; Sagicor Bank Jamaica Limited, Ocho Rios – Corporate Award ; and Royal DeCameron Club Caribbean in Salem, Runaway Bay – Tourism Award.

There were also three special awards to members of the chamber: Lorna Davis, second vice-president; Eva Myers, director; and Humphrey Taylor, company secretary. The chamber’s special award goes to members who are acting directors who have been serving for 15 years or more.

Eighty-year-old Gallimore served as member of parliament (MP) for South West St Ann for 30 years, from February 1967 to December 1997. During that period, he served as minister of social security from 1984 to 1986 and minister of education from 1986 to 1989.

On a national scale, Gallimore was responsible for initiating the food stamp programme while minister of social security and for founding the University Council of Jamaica while he was minister of education.

But he was presented the Citizen’s Award by the chamber for his “significant contribution to the community of St Ann” during his tenure as MP and also as a medical doctor.

Meanwhile, McDonald, who spoke with The Gleaner, said he was happy that he was recognised for his contribution to the field of education, which spanned 41 years.

After completing his studies at the then Mico Teachers’ College in 1960, McDonald started working at Bensonton All-Age School in St Ann before completing a degree at the University of the West Indies. He later served as principal of several schools in St Mary and St Ann, the last being Aabuthnott Gallimore High in Alexandria, St Ann.

“I feel good to know that somebody recognises me. I feel very honoured,” McDonald told The Gleaner. “I taught for a short while, but I’ve been a principal for 30-odd years.”

In 1999, McDonald received the Governor General’s Achievement Award for outstanding community service.