South Andros MP Picewell Forbes. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
SHADOW Housing Minister Picewell Forbes yesterday raked the government's low-cost serviced lots scheme over the coals, stating the low rate of eligible applicants evidenced a flawed programme.
"We can't believe the minister and the prime minister put down a plaque to promote the sale of the 10 lots created in the Sunset Close extension by the PLP and he has not sold them," Mr Forbes said in a press statement yesterday.
The South Andros MP further claimed the lots at Sunset Close Subdivision extension had already been pre-assigned by the former administration and were pre-approved.
He said he found it amusing the government would promote a project he claimed was designed and approved by the PLP ahead of the 2017 general election.
"I am advised that all these lots were all assigned prior to the election and because of their size, specially designed houses were to be constructed there to complement the existing subdivision," Mr Forbes said.
"The persons who got the assignments were pre-approved so why are the applicants now failing to qualify?
"In my budget statement I warned the government that their programme was flawed. I did not believe that applicants who needed affordable housing would have the resources to take advantage of service lots. What I predicted has come true. The programme has fallen woefully short of the mark."
When contacted yesterday, Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira called on Mr Forbes to provide evidence of his claims.
On Tuesday, Mr Ferreira told reporters outside of Cabinet just nine of 60 applications received by the Department of Housing were eligible - some six weeks since the initiative was launched.
He urged Bahamians to get their "financial house" in order as the lots on offer represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase land in New Providence at low rates.
The Department of Housing launched its serviced lot initiative at Sunset Close off Carmichael Road, called the Sunset Close Subdivision Extension, on July 12.
Those lots are priced at $15,000, but Mr Ferreira said the price for the other lots, in Fox Hill and Carmichael, will depend on the cost to install infrastructural services.
In his statement yesterday, Mr Forbes said: "Their housing programme is woefully inadequate, under-resourced, if not non-existent. It is shameful that all the housing minister can tell us is how the majority of people who applied for their service lot programme could not qualify.
"The FNM has this unfortunate way of glorying in the misfortunes of its citizens. The minister should have instead been boasting about how they are working with each applicant to ensure that they do qualify."
Mr Forbes added: "The picture of the prime minister and his minister of housing laying a plaque to promote the sale of a mere ten lots shows how desperate this government is for good news. Unfortunately, there is no good news there either."