By Caribbean News Global contributor
ROSEAU, Dominica – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit budget for the fiscal year 2020-2021, themed – The Road To Dynamic Dominica – Fostering Economic Resilience – extended his government commitment to housing the nation, “unparalled anywhere in the world,” explained as follows:
“We have continued to transform and improve the housing conditions of thousands of our citizens. The people of Dynamic Dominica will be properly housed, and our national housing and property stock will be amongst the highest quality and most hurricane resilient in the Caribbean.”
“As we accelerate the Housing [the Nation] programme in fiscal year 2020/21, the ministry of housing and urban development will receive an allocation of $117.4 million. This includes funding of $25 million from the World Bank under the Housing Recovery Project, and 10.6 million in grant funding, from the European Union. The latter is designated to construct 50 resilient homes in the Kalinago Territory. The tender process has commenced and award of contract is expected soon. I would like to once again place on record, the gratitude of the government and people of Dominica to the European Union, for this grant.”
Over 450 homes will also be built across the island, with proceeds from the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBIP).
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“These significant investments, while providing homes to those in need, will not only contribute to changing the landscape of our housing sector but also create many opportunities for jobs and the provision of other services. The government, for example, has taken a firm decision that all kitchen cabinets and closets, shall be manufactured by local furniture makers.”
Grants to first time home builders
We have received again this year the recommendation to reduce import duties on building materials. As indicated on numerous occasions, based on Dominica’s experience, this measure does not result in the desired outcome, of an equivalent reduction in the prices of these materials.
Notwithstanding the government’s expansive housing programme, we are cognizant of the fact that we must create the environment to encourage people to build their own homes. We have more than doubled the mortgage interest deductions allowable for income tax, have made funds available at the government housing loans board and at the AID Bank, for access by public officers and citizens in general.
Government is going further this year and is providing for a temporary reduction in the fees related to the transfer of land. It is our desire that everyone, particularly our young people, will take advantage of the opportunity during this very favourable period, to invest in the purchase of properties and construction of their homes.
To assist in this regard government has set aside an amount of $1.5 million, to support persons under the age of 40 years, whose annual income is less than $100,000, who have never owned a home before and are interested in acquiring a home of their own. This support will be provided in the form of grant vouchers to a maximum of $10,000 per home for the purchase of building materials or to be put towards the transfer fees for the purchase of a new home.
Terms and conditions
To qualify, first time home builders must present copies of building plans approved by the physical planning division and must have commenced construction with the secured financing required to complete construction of the building where they intend to reside. In the case of first-time buyers of a home, notice of intention to sell must be presented along with evidence that financing has been secured. These grants will be available from October 1, 2020 and be administered by the ministry of youth development and empowerment, and is expected to benefit 150 of our young people.
And, while we concentrate on providing for the vulnerable, middle age and elderly we shall continue to assist in the development of our young people, to ensure they can be self-sufficient and can contribute to the building of Dominica for generations to come.