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The house collapsed on Sept. 19. The owner had previously complained to the government the house was shaking. (IWN photo)
The house collapsed on Sept. 19. The owner had previously complained to the government the house was shaking. (IWN photo)
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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

When you have evil in your heart you can almost be certain things will inevitably go wrong — karma will get you.   That’s what has happened, and that’s the basis of the ULP housing schemes.  They like to describe them as a government housing schemes; that is not true.   They are schemes designed by a political party that is in a position of power to build houses for their own supporters, in areas where they need to boost their voting electorate. It’s no more, and no less than that.

It’s an attempt to move whole swathes of supporters into areas where the ULP has low support.   It’s the old British Labour Party style of increasing votes where the party needs votes to get elected.   A practice invented by the British Labour Party government in the early days when nasty Marxist types and other little red devils ruled the country.

The British Labour Party in 1951 established a scientific socialist revolution, which planned to build council houses in the UK for rent and sale in areas that traditionally had low socialist support. They went to pretty little towns and villages of a few hundred or a few thousand people and supplanted a populace that greatly exceeded that of the original people count, sometimes by more than double.

That is exactly what the ULP government wants to do.  Plant, install large numbers of people in housing projects in areas where they previously could not get elected. It is similar to what was done in Jamaica with the voting garrisons. But to do that they must ensure that those who take the houses are grateful to the party and will vote for them come hell or high water. But this cannot be a fair government policy; it can only be a party political policy dressed as a government giveaway scheme that benefits a certain section of the populace while excluding others —  a sign of the ULP’s good governance policy in the 21st century.

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One of the main differences between the British government of that time and the Vincentian government of this time is a fiscal matter. The UK was flush with money and could print their own currency whenever they ran short. The current government of SVG is broke; it can’t afford toilet paper in the public toilet at the hospital. It can’t afford to fund the upkeep of our roads, buildings and infrastructure, let alone build large numbers of houses for low income.

When the ULP had the brainwave of building to the socialist scientific formula, the government was already broke. They already had managed to bring down the state owned bank by excessive borrowing.  Even what I describe as ULP cronies had borrowed from the bank and were unable to repay their debts. The bank, under such onslaught, appeared doomed to fold. The ULP, or perhaps the ULP government [the supporters, even the hierarchy, don’t know the difference] therefore had the brilliant idea of acquiring low priced land and giving that to the proposed house buyers. Of course, these lands that had no value, because they were problem lands. That is extreme slopes and soil problems such as the lands at Clare Valley [price of land still awaited].   The lands at Clare are clay based upper structure with an “abu” base. The clay topsoil is of no use for farming or growing crops, and the base material is an unstable type of clay that has many rocks and stones in it.  When dry it shrinks and when wet it increases in volume considerably and is unstable and sticky, somewhat like runny plasticine.  It is therefore unsuitable for farming or building.  In fact, the land in Clare Valley has laid fallow for years. Despite a number of reports that carry warnings about such soil, the ULP government went ahead and built on it. They must have been aware of the inherent problems, and if they were not, they should have been. The results being that one house has fallen off its stilts/columns and others are at risk of doing so. People’s lives are in jeopardy — men, women and children living in these houses at Clare Valley are at great risk.

I have recently acquired a USAID report from the 1970’s and it has maps and plans showing all areas in SVG with such soils as those at Clare Valley. It may quite well be  that Clare Valley is not the only government building site with such problems.

The government, as part of the brainwave and because they could not borrow money at the time from the banks, proposed house owners borrow the money themselves from lenders for payment of building their houses, and such loans were paid over to the state-owned HDLC, presumably to try and put the government at arm’s length in the project, lest it goes wrong – as it has.

So now the government believes they are one removed from the borrowing source and perhaps also HDLC and the building contractor put them further out of reach. If the current house owners don’t pay the mortgage it’s between the owners and their banks. Therefore house owners are in the crap, not the government. But in truth, it’s not quite as clear-cut as that, as some may think. If the house owners stop paying their mortgage lenders, that will be the total end of the government socialist scientific building programme, because no lender henceforth will lend to people who buy into such schemes.  That’s why the government spokesman is saying don’t abandon your house, begging the people to stay in the homes regardless of the consequences and regardless of the risk to life and limb. In fact, it appears with no regard to the possible consequences of staying in their homes at Clare Valley. The owners need to wise up and get themselves a lawyer to represent them as a group, preferably a lawyer with no government or ULP links, association or affiliation.

Perhaps the lenders must bear some responsibility. Did they have their own surveyors look at and test the lands? If they did, then they got it wrong and deserve to make a loss. If they didn’t they also deserve to make a loss.

The ULP government thinks nothing of poor people, because most of them don’t vote for anyone let alone ULP. So the houses that they describe as low- and middle-income homes simply are not that at all. They are upper-middle income homes.  No low-income or lower middle-income earners could afford these homes. The words low income is concocted to fool the people that they are doing something for the poor; they are not!  What they are doing is creating a new upper middle class electorate that will consistently vote ULP. That is the only reason for the building of these types of homes in SVG. They are not social housing, they are not for low-income citizens, they are not for the poor and needy, they are not for none ULP supporters!

These are houses for people like lawyers, doctors, well-paid government workers, ranked  police officers, and even the sister of Ralph Gonsalves’ press secretary Hans King has one. Party and supporters first; own the jobs, own the government, and own the houses!

But it has just backfired. The homes at Clare Valley are now blighted and likely worthless. Whatever they do to them, even rebuilding them, they will always be blighted; that’s the way it works.  They have been sold what’s called “a pig in a poke”!  The current owners have homes that are worthless and will likely remain worthless for the foreseeable future.

The ULP party can walk away without a loss, except that is in votes, and rightly so. This is yet another example of them stumbling from crisis to crisis.

Can we accuse the owners of being driven by greed?  A group who thought their party was giving them an exclusive half price deal, even given them bargain houses worth two or three time what they paid for them. Yet what they have now ended up with are homes that are worthless, homes that are blighted and un-saleable at any price, and homes that in law can only be described as unfit for the purpose for which they were purchased.

I suppose some may of had greed in their hearts and minds, as they saw this as a golden opportunity to get ahead. But no one deserves being ripped off regardless of party affiliation or beliefs, even if misguided in such.

Let’s pray that there are no major earthquakes in the near future, because all these houses may fall like a pack of cards.

Peter Binose  

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

16 replies on “ULP’s electioneering housing scheme hits a slippery slope”

  1. I’m commenting on “Peter Binose” article not for the diatribe about a political party which by the way is a one sided attack on this party. Never saw a single sentence in any medium on the NDP, that brings me to my point.

    First, is “Peter Binose” a thing, a mouth piece for the NDP, part or big supporter of the NDP? Is “Peter Binose” a Ms, Miss, Mrs or Mr? Because this is so and I seriously question the genuineness of anyone hiding behind this anonymity (hence I’d refer to “Peter Binose” as an “it”) to attack people, gov’t, organisation and political parties it doesn’t like.

    The frustration and annoying thing about this it’s about time that the medium it uses out it and let it declare its position instead of using this cowardly way of maliciously smearing those it attacks.

    Undoubtedly, it, is knowledgeable, educated and a smart person and this is the frustrating part, and in it writing, it could certainly try to be a little more balanced i.e. try a bit of rational, reasoned and objective application instead of sounding so bitterr, nasty and with a gripe against a party, govt and individuals.

    My gripe however, is that this sort of practice would appear as part and parcel of our press and media in the Caribbean and allow such vileness without transparency. No one should hide bend a name.

  2. Can’t help making one small rebalance of what Peter Binose claimed about the UK Labour Party – This person seems to have this hate in his veins of anything with a social element to it. By the way, right at this moment all 3 main British political parties have adopted in their party conference that will become part of their manifesto, a commitment to build hundreds of thousands of houses for those who are priced out of the market. So to use this kind of analogy and link the British Labour Party with the ULP to make a cheap but wrong/untrue point is gutter rhetoric.

  3. They gone Peter don’t worry. They could build the great wall of China in SVG and they are still going to lose. People have been suffering for years while others ride around in big cars, and others buy 2 and 3 cars for their children to wreck every Monday morning.

    Even in the housing scheme Hans King Sister house is alleged to be the only house with 12 x 12 columns and everyone else was smaller. Could you imagine that? So they had to know something was wrong or they would make her columns 8 x 8 too.

    They like revolutions? well we going to have another one in this country. When these guys leave office we are going to have the lockup revolution. I can’t wait. Time running out man, the bell must ring.

  4. Pat Robinson Cmmissiong says:

    While I have no doubt that the ULP has been trying to move supporters into areas in which they want to increase their share of the vote, I doubt that you can attribute this to a policy of “the British Labour Party in 1951”, if only because the British Labour Party were not building houses in any Tory strongholds in 1951. The slum clearances, which the Conservative Party claimed was a policy to inject Labour voters into Tory strongholds, occurred during the Depression of the inter-War years. And it was not the whole of the UK but in London where the Labour Party won control of the London County Council. I don’t know that any of the slum clearances involved “middle income” housing or “affordable housing” the two latest terms being used for what was originally termed “lower income housing” in SVG. It was literally slum clearance. You want to read about the conditions in the slums of industrial cities of the UK to understand why they made slum clearance a priority. I went to London as a student in 1962 and there were still houses in working class areas that lacked indoor toilet and bath facilities. Instead there were chamber pots and slop pails to cart the human waste from the house, and a once a week bath (if so often) in a tin tub filled using pails of water in the kitchen; and no central heating – residents used kerosene heaters or coal fires where they had a grate – and not all housing had that.
    The Labour Party won the immediate post-war election in 1945, when they introduced the Welfare state and the National Health Service (of which Britons of all political persuasions are still very proud). They won again in 1950, with a greatly reduced majority. But there was another election in 1951 which the Conservatives won (Have you never heard of the infamous Suez Crisis of 1953? – that was a Conservative government). And in the post war years UK governments were not “flush with money” as you say. Britain was virtually bankrupt in 1945 at the end of World War II, owing huge debts to the USA. Their recovery from that was slow. And printing money “whenever they ran short” leads to inflation, not to mention a depreciation of the currency – ask Zimbabwe about that. Both Labour and Conservative governments built houses after the war because so much of the housing stock in industrial towns was destroyed by bombing during the war – there were large swathes of “bomb sites” where houses once stood. During the War both sides bombed docks – the entry point for raw materials – and manufacturing towns. Working class housing clustered around such sites. There were no “smart bombs” at that time so housing was destroyed along with the factories and docks. The post war rebuilding was to replace such losses most of which affected working class people, many (but not all) of whom were Labour Party supporters. That is because the British Labour Party, unlike the Labour Party in SVG, grew out of the Trade Union movement, although there have always been Middle class members. And the difference between the two “Labour Parties” is that the housing built whether during Great Depression of the inter-War years or post-war was not for the middle class voters. it was for working class voters who lived in truly appalling conditions. Don’t let your dislike of Communism cloud your analyses.

  5. Will have thousands of new jobs better Health Care Facilities better roads a sound economy and the brightest economist. Only the NDP can achieve all of this, pie in the SKY.

  6. Kenton you keep telling us underlings that if we submit long comments it will take a long time for you to go through them, moderate and approve them.

    Now Pat Commissiong can write a very very long comment the same day as you post my letter and you post is almost right away. My long comments you sometimes take a week or more post.

    I am writing a reply to her comment, as long as her comment, lets see how long it for that to be posted.

    1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      I’ll watch for it too. Just don’t get your historical facts wrong. With the exception of that I do enjoy your posts

      1. Website

        Again I apologise, Cummings should be Commissiong who I totally concur with. I also agree with “Annoyed” who highlights the very fear and at the same time annoyance I have about Caribbean Politics. Not only its unnecessary but unbecoming of these mouth pieces who have nothing but negativity in their thinking that not only leads to lies but innuendoes and personal attacks. Have we travelled in our thinking and devpt? Obviously not. As a young man growing up in SVG it was the norm for each new govt to get rid of en-masse civil servants all because they suspect and know these employees were not supporters at the ballot box and if I’m not wrong, it’s the same mentally being spouted by “Blane” below. What a pity. How can we progress and go forward in a climate as this?

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        Annoyed says:

    2. Well! I’m waiting for moderation and approval on two comments I made to “Peter Binose” critique.

  7. I hope you know Mr Binose that your house can fall tool during an earthquake as well. Do you understand the term Natural Disasters? You dispute everything in this country, how about we elect you as PM to see your performance?

    All this country has is a bunch of cowards that keep writing in the newspapers and calling in on radio programs with opinions that sometimes have no reasoning behind it and put them to do the job, and they can’t do jack.

    1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      Well, yes. A house can fall during an earthquake or a natural disaster – like a catastrophic flood accompanied by landslides. But what Natural Disaster caused this house to fall? I could get knocked down by a meteor. So does that mean that if somebody driving a car recklessly knocks me down I should not complain? The point that people are making is that according to soil reports, of which there are two of which one was commissioned by this government, that land is not suitable for house building, except with very expensive foundation works. That so-called “affordable houses” houses were built there without even regular foundations (I grew up in Guyana where hundreds of houses are built on poles, and I took one look at the columns of these houses and thought – “matchsticks”) despite that is recklessness, NOT a natural disaster – unless you consider the planners of this project natural disasters in themselves.

  8. Well well well! And who is winging now about someone putting the author on the spot by correcting misinformation on the British Labour Party just because that author wants to make the link with socialism and smear the ULP. I commented on the same thing without the same punch as Mr Cummings, but it would appear that my comments were too controversial to get past I-Witness moderation and approval.

    1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      My comment was, as you said, correcting misinformation about the Labour Party. It was not, however, a comment on the general tenor of the piece, which was critical of the this housing project. My problem with Peter Binose has always been his tendency to attribute every problem to “socialism” when these problems could occur across the political spectrum. The problems he complains of are the result of (a) incompetence or (b) hubris, or (c) sheer vindictiveness or any combination of the above. That’s not socialism, capitalism, communism or any other political ideology. It is a failure of our leaders. And that, unfortunately, is not limited to SVG, but we are discussing SVG just now.

      1. Hi Mr Commissiong, it would appear I respond to the wrong article, the word “winging” was directed at “Peter Bonose” if there is such a name to this person, and infact I was totally in support of what you wrote and in turn “Peter Binose” was complaining to I-Witness for your article which was felt too long.

        Sorry for the misunderstanding – I think we are singing from the same him sheet as far “Peter Bonose” is concerned.

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