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Contractor Chief Hopes Foraffordable Homes Boost

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamian Contractors Association's (BCA) president yesterday said the Government's Affordable Homes initiative could potentially provide an immediate housing sector boost, although the legislation needed more examination.

Leonard Sands, pictured, spoke out as the House of Assembly yesterday debated and passed the Access to Affordable Homes Bill 2018, which seeks to promote greater access to lower-cost housing through the grant of certain tax exemptions for the building of homes on land within a government-owned subdivision.

It would apply where the subdivision has been provided with all the necessary infrastructure for essential services and utilities. Dr Hubert Minnis, the Prime Minister, said the first service lots will be released for sale in June or July this year. Public officers, such as police, Defence Force and prison officers, will be among the first to have the ability to purchase such lots.

"I will have to look at the legislation to understand more fully how this works," Mr Sands told Tribune Business. "It could have a fairly significant impact on the sector when you look at the persons who would be able to purchase these lots in the first instance.

"If they can purchase the lots and be able to qualify for a mortgage, then certainly within a matter of months we could see construction happening and that would be good for the sector. If persons can get the land for cheap and then qualify for a $100,000-$150,000 mortgage for the house, I think we could see some things happening, especially if you can get a significant number of persons to qualify."

The Access to Affordable Homes Bill 2018 provides Customs duty and Excise Tax exemptions on construction materials. These apply for a period of two years from the date of the approval from the minister, or within the extended period. A Certificate of Occupancy must also be issued.

The legislation, once passed, will also provide for a resumption of title by the Minister of Housing, and possible equal restitution, should a person fail to complete a home within the specified period.

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