The government on Monday handed over six houses in Caratal, Georgetown to families whose homes were destroyed by the December 2013 floods and landslides.
The event was the third distribution of houses and lands to persons by the government over the past few days.
The lands, the prices of which range between 10 and 50 cents per square foot, had been occupied by persons informally for decades.
Speaking at the event on Monday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said the project has so far costs the government EC$1 million.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said that the lands, which are yet to be paid for, is estimated at EC$600,000.
He said the used to be “in bush” and is owned by one section of the Crichton family, and payment will be made after the resolution of some matters.
Two of the houses are one-bedroom units, while the other four have two bedrooms each.
He said a one-bedroom house cost EC$55,000 each and a two-bedroom costs EC$80,000 each, excluding the price of the land.
The land is about EC$7.50 per square foot, and, on average, one lot has 4,000 square feet, Gonsalves said.
“We are putting inside the hands of people a two-bedroom house valued at 110,000 dollars. What a government! And for the one-bedroom, it will be 85,000 dollars,” he said.
“And each of these houses is far better accommodation that the persons who lost their houses in the storm and these houses are the gift of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, acting through their government,” Gonsalves said.
“Now, not even in the great United States of American that you find this happening,” he said in reference to his government’s policy of rebuilding houses for victims of natural disasters.
“You have [Hurricane] Katrina in New Orleans, you have people who went in shelters, and if they stay beyond a certain time in the shelters — the same thing happen in New York City when you had that storm, Sandy — the federal government will send them a bill for the time they overstay in any shelter,” Gonsalves said.
Last Thursday the government distributed letter for occupants of 37 lots of land in Carapan to receive titles for their properties after paying the hugely discounted price.
And on Friday, the government handed over six houses to disaster victims and 31 letters of offer to “informal human settlers” in Colonairie, Gonsalves’ home village.
Gonsalves, speaking at the event in
Colonairie, described his government’s housing policy, saying housing is a human right.
“Housing is a fundamental human right and it is the duty of government to facilitate the provision of adequate housing at an affordable price,” he said.
He said some human rights activists only think that certain things are human rights.
“And I am not saying they are not, but I want us to widen our compass about human rights to include housing, among other things,” he said.
Housing is not a basic human right except in communist regimes where the government owns all the houses — and everything else.
The right to make a living free from government interference or meddling is a basic human right which we certainly don’t have in SVG what with the sky high rates of unemployment and underemployment (together totalling about 50 percent) exacerbated by poor public policy.
When people are free to work and earn a decent living, all the other rights will take care of themselves.
Providing housing for people has many negative effects that I and others have reported here: it increases dependency on the state; it it decreases self reliance; it buys peoples’ political supports; it encourages graft and corruption; it produces unfair competition with the private sector.
Your observations are quite right David.
The people that lost their homes in 2013, could have had their new homes in 2014, but that was to far away from the elections, so it was left until 2015.
Everything that Gonsalves has done, is little more than vote buying.
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