Good afternoon and welcome to today’s Key Distribution Ceremony!
I know that you are anxious to receive the keys to your new homes so I promise you that I will not be very long.
With exactly one week to go before Christmas and two weeks before the end of the year, it is timely that we spend some time to reflect on the year that was; as we look toward the future with much promise and hope. Always remembering to give thanks for the opportunities that have come our way and more so, the challenges.
Christmas brings out the very best in all of us, but as someone once said, “Christmas is not a date, it is a state of mind”. We at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Housing Development Corporation feel the same way too. We are only too happy to give of ourselves so that we can help to change the fortunes of those we serve. As such, I wish to thank the Board, Management and operational teams of the HDC for their tireless efforts in making this event today and the others we have held over the past four weeks, very successful.
I also wish to thank the Permanent Secretary and the team at the Ministry for ensuring that my orientation and assumption of duties were seamless so that I was able to literally hit the ground running when I assumed office as Minister of Housing and Urban Development in March. Since assuming this position some nine months ago, I have spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that we set relevant and attainable strategic objectives which will help the Ministry to better serve the citizenry of this country. Having spent a great deal of time establishing these objectives, we are in active implementation mode now as we seek to complete a number of citizen-centric initiatives and operationalise the Ministry’s mandate to alleviate some of the challenges faced within the housing and urban development sectors.
Ladies and gentlemen, a lot of what we have been able to do over the last year, is as a result of our clear understanding of our vision to provide quality, affordable home solutions for those that require Government’s intervention.
Our vision is supported by the Ministry’s housing policy which was first created by a PNM Government in the 1990s. From that policy, 5 came the Ministry’s Accelerated Housing Programme, which is the most prolific housing programme ever to be implemented in Trinidad and Tobago. You see, because of that policy and this progressive housing programme, the PNM Government (between 2002-2009) was able to construct over 15,000 housing units to provide relief and comfort to deserving citizens; unlike the former People’s Partnership Government who was only able to do approximately 4000 units in their 5 years in office.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are fully aware that our country’s economy is not as strong as it was in the recent past. However, we as a Ministry, are still grateful that we have been able to do so much with so little financial resources over the last year. Here are just a few initiatives we have implemented to help you get closer to your dream.
So, ladies and gentlemen, we are the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the HDC have been working. We have been working hard so that you can reap the benefits of our hard work. We understand what home ownership is about and we understand what quality affordable shelter offerings can provide to families.
As we continue with our home delivery drive, let me just say that we have delivered almost 1200 units for the year already and will continue to hand over keys well into the new year.
There is no denying that housing is an essential and worthy pursuit. We at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the HDC can appreciate the desire that so many of you describe to us when we meet or interact with you. I want to take this opportunity, which is already so full of promise, to assure you of our commitment to fulfil our mandate. We know that we need to keep providing affordable housing so that we can whittle away at the deficit, one family at a time.
On behalf of the staff of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the HDC, please accept my best wishes to you and your families. I do hope that you have a blessed holiday season and a brighter, more prosperous 2017!