JOHN’S Antigua, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it is expanding its program of building 500 homes in 500 days, following an overwhelming response to the initiative.
The initiative was one of the promises made by the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) during the campaign for the June 12 general election.
Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, said that over 7,000 people have applied to the program and building 500 homes would create a problem.
“We have in excess of seven thousand applications for homes and to build only five hundred homes is going to create a problem. We have to increase it. I believe we are going to have to build at least two thousand homes in the first instance. This is not a delaying tactic.
“We don’t have to prove that it can be done. It has been done elsewhere and it can be done in Antigua and Barbuda. The issue is five hundred homes cannot supply the demand out of seven thousand applicants. So we are expanding the program,” Prime Minister Browne said.
He said his administration has signed an agreement with a local landowner to acquire 25 acres of land at Cook’s Estate and is negotiating with the Social Security Scheme to acquire another 40 acres at Paynters Development.
Prime Minister Browne also indicated that that his government has approached Mexico for funds totalling US$45 million for the project, with US$40 million being a loan and five million US dollars in grant aid.
“The five hundred homes in five hundred days project will go as we planned it; we are in a position to start at any point. We have capital already. Personally, I have secured EC$50 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) from investors locally.
“We do have funds to start, so this chatter about delay is just what it is – chatter. The land development is taking place as we speak, and we have already incorporated a national housing company, which will oversee the construction of the homes.
“The demand for the homes drives the policy, and so whoever wants to enter into a debate about whether it can be done is their business. We are working to ensure that it will be done,” said Prime Minister Browne.
The government said that successful applicants will pay interest rates as low as five percent for mortgages, from the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank and other commercial banks on the island.
The government said it expects that before the middle of 2015, a number of the homes would have been constructed.