Property Matters – HDC Housing Bonds

This article will examine the proposed HDC Housing Bonds announced by Finance Minister Imbert in Parliament on Friday, 20 September 2019.  The proposal is to borrow $1.0 Billion via bonds in various tenors offering investors tax-free returns of 4.5%.  The funds raised are to be used for purchasing HDC homes, which was stated to be of importance in addressing critical financial challenges in that State Agency.

Continue reading “Property Matters – HDC Housing Bonds”

Property Matters – In-Dependence?

 

“Local contractors and consultants who compete with foreign companies should be provided with the same or equivalent benefits as enjoyed by those foreign companies and should be protected from unfair competition through matters such as soft loans.”
—The Uff Report‘s 43rd recommendation, on the benefits awarded to foreign contractors.

 

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This article will delve into the large-scale program for 5,000 new apartments to be built for HDC by China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Ltd (CGGC). I am writing this on the night before our 57th anniversary of Independence and my reflections are bittersweet, dwelling on those old discussions about how, for many countries in the Global South, Independence was only symbolised as a spectacle. We used to call it Flag and Anthem Independence, all form with little substance.

As the fight for transparency in our Public Business is waged against those officials who are hostile to the truth, my mind runs on the widespread recent discussion on the proper performance of the National Anthem; the re-emergence of the colonial offense of Sedition; the bizarre, backward, dress-codes to enter public facilities (no sleeveless, no shorts, no cap or hat, no this and none of that) and so much else in the same vein. At the same time as the endless discussions on these issues, we have a cultivated, enforced silence on the huge deals and arrangements within which our Public Assets are bargained. Continue reading “Property Matters – In-Dependence?”

VIDEO: Interview with i95.5 FM on FoI, etc. – 16 July 2019

i95.5fm logoAfra Raymond was interviewed by Ralph Maraj on i95.5 FM on Tuesday, 16 July 2019 about the Freedom of Information Act in Trinidad and Tobago in light of Mr Raymond’s win in court to get further information in the CL Financial bailout. Following on from that victory, he also discusses research conducted on public housing using information gleaned from prior Freedom of Information requests. Video courtesy i95.5 FM

Programme Length: 00:42:43
Programme Date: 16 July 2019

Property Matters – New Public Housing

“…that this is “a defining moment for the housing construction industry in Trinidad and Tobago”, the Minister stated that “the Government through agencies like the HDC, remains committed to providing affordable, well-designed housing accommodation and adequate infrastructure and amenities for the various low and middle income citizens…”
—Statement by Housing and Urban Development Minister, Major-General Edmund Dillon at launch of the HDC’s latest housing initiative.

Signing-hdc.jpg
HDC Chairman, Newman George (seated, second from right) presents a copy of the signed agreement to Zhou Xing, Executive Vice President, CGGC. Looking on are Lui, Huailiang, General Manager, CGGC (left) and HDC Managing Director, Brent Lyons. Also witnessing are (standing from left) Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry; Attorney General and MP for San Fernando West, Faris Al Rawi; Chinese Ambassador to T&T, Song Yumin; Housing and Urban Development Minister, Major General (ret’d)Edmund Dillon; Minister of Public Administration and MP for Port of Spain South and Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Dennis Moses. Photo credit: The HDC

On Friday 17 May 2019, the HDC signed contracts for an extensive program of new public housing with China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co. Ltd (CGGC). The arrangement is that CGGC will design, finance and construct 5,000 new homes for the HDC in phases.

The first two-year phase is for 204 flats at South Quay in POS and 235 at Lady Hailes Avenue in San Fernando at a cost of $71,739,411 USD. The contract sum for the first phase was stated in USD, which raises for me questions as to why it was not stated in TTD. The contract sum is equivalent to $490M TTD, so the average cost per unit exceeds $1.1M. That does not count the land of course, since we always seem to place no value on the land. Continue reading “Property Matters – New Public Housing”

VIDEO: Interview on The Morning Brew on new Chinese housing contract

CNC3 LogoAfra Raymond sits with Hema Ramkissoon on the Morning Brew to discuss the newly revealed public-private agreement to finance and build 5,000 apartment units in Port of Spain and San Fernando with China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Ltd (CGGC). Opinions on whether this is a good deal or not. Video courtesy CNC3 Television.

Programme Length: 00:10:40
Programme Date: Wednesday, 22 May 2019

AUDIO: Interview on Business Corner on Power 102 FM, Housing Policy – 20 August 2018

business-corner-power-102Afra Raymond, based on his research on the effectiveness and delivery metrics of the existing housing policy, was interviewed on the Power 102.1FM ‘Business Corner‘ by Sandrine Rattan on Housing Policy and outcomes.

Programme Date: 20th August 2018
Programme Length: 00:12:48