GIS - 22 December, 2015: “Construction works for 1,256 housing units of 50m² over 16 sites across the island will start next year, and the project is expected to be completed by mid-2017. The contracts for consultancy services have been awarded by the National Housing Development Company Ltd (NHDC) in September 2015.”
The announcement was made by the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Lands, Mr Showkutally Soodhun, in a press conference, yesterday in Port Louis, on the achievements of the Ministry of Housing and Lands for the period January to December 2015.
The Vice-Prime Minister recalled that as per measures of the Budget 2015-2016, the size of the housing units has been increased from 39m² to 50m² for all new housing projects so as to accommodate at least two bedrooms. “Known as smart residences,” stated Mr Soodhun, “these new housing estates will be designed in an integrated manner comprising basic social and recreational amenities like polyvalent hall, kindergarten, and day care centres.”
In line with Government’s commitment to cater for the more vulnerable segment of the population, Mr Soodhun said that 10% of the total number of housing units in all new projects will be reserved for beneficiaries of the Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment / National Empowerment Foundation, that is, for families earning less than Rs 6,200 monthly. Speaking on the abolition of 5% tax registration fee payable by buyers of NHDC housing units, Mr Soodhun said that the categories of households eligible for a NHDC housing unit have also been extended from those earning up to Rs 10,000 to those earning up to Rs 20,000. As for the provision of serviced lots, the Vice-Prime Minister said that the allocation of 288 serviced lots to eligible applicants is being finalised.
On the Roof Slab Grant Scheme, Mr Soodhun affirmed that as at December 2015, 1,561 families (including 126 in Rodrigues) have benefitted from the scheme to the tune of some Rs 93 million. It is noted that Government has increased the grant for casting of roof slab from Rs 65,000 to Rs 75,000 with effect from July 2015 for families earning a monthly income of up to Rs 10,000. This income limit was previously Rs 8,500. In addition, Government has further revised the eligibility criteria to allow families earning between Rs 10,000 - Rs 15,000 monthly to benefit from a grant of up to Rs 40,000.
The Vice-Prime Minister also mentioned Government’s concerns and measures initiated for existing NHDC Housing Estates. Hence, some Rs 2,400 is disbursed yearly per housing unit for 6,247 residents of 41 NHDC housing estates as syndic fee for the upkeep and maintenance of common areas. “An amount of Rs 13.8 Million has been disbursed from January to November 2015 for that purpose,” averred Mr Soodhun. In the same vein, the Vice-Prime Minister said that rehabilitation works in NHDC Housing Estates over 70 sites, which aim at upgrading the living conditions of some 10,000 families, are ongoing.
Recalling that arrears from purchasers of NHDC Housing Unit, as at December 2014, amounted to Rs 117 million and involved some 3,200 cases, Mr Soodhun highlighted the measures and strategies implemented to remedy the situation. Thus, a special unit known as the ‘Arrears Recovery Team’ with the sole task of recovery of arrears has been set by the NHDC while purchasers of NHDC housing units are now exempted from payment of interest on the remaining balance of capital provided that they have paid at least 75% of the purchase price, and the remaining 25% is paid within two years, without interest. “With these new measures, the debt to be recovered has been reduced from Rs 117 million to Rs 98 million as at end of November 2015,” stressed the Vice-Prime Minister.
Finally, Vice-Prime Minister Soodhun underlined steps taken by his Ministry to do away with the problem of squatters over State Land. “Government decided that all squatters prior to 01 July 2015 would either be regularised in situ or relocated to alternative sites,” he pointed out. The Vice-Prime Minister stated that out of the 1,054 cases of squatting registered as at 01 July 2015, 422 are to be regularised in situ, 472 would be relocated and 160 cannot be considered.