Gov't can make deliberate moves towards affordable

Monday, October 23, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Further to the Jamaica Observer article in the Saturday 21 October 2017 edition, titled 'Be creative with housing finance products, PM urges', I would like to suggest that we also need to look at how to reduce the cost of housing, as I believe this will facilitate finding more “creative housing finance products” and put the product within the price range of those in our society that most need it.

I would like to propose the three following options:

1. Properly capitalise the National Water Commission (NWC) so that it can install and provide the necessary sewerage and water connections to land developers' property boundaries, and if that is not possible contribute significantly (minimum of 75 per cent) to the on-site treatment systems.

Currently, if immediate connections are not available, developers are required to install at their cost the necessary connections to existing NWC infrastructure, and then turn it over to the NWC free of cost. This is then passed on to the purchaser in the purchase price. If no connections are available then the developer must install an on-site treatment system and the cost of this is then passed on to the purchaser in the purchase price. The NWC then makes lifelong revenues from that infrastructure through water and sewerage fees, so why shouldn't they pay for the infrastructure in the first place?

2. Eliminate General Consumption Tax on all building materials and services for affordable income housing projects. The Government could treat the project area like a special economic zone.

3. Significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the stamp duty and transfer tax on all affordable housing title transactions.

Further price reduction options are available and that is best realised by the Government meeting with the land developers and thoroughly examining the line item costs and seeing where the reductions can be facilitated.

Mark N Kerr-Jarrett, JP

Managing Director

Barnett Limited

Montego Bay, St James

kerrj@cwjamaica.com

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