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Foolishness, Natural Constituencies and Montano (D) (Part II)
Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2005

By Stephen Kangal

Politics Montano (D) style stretched the limits of "foolishness" to its breaking point in a recent Senate debate. Senator Parvatee Anmolsingh-Mahabir during the debate held in the Senate on the 25 of August on the Housing Corporation Bill, 2005 legitimately and reasonably appealed for Government to implement a more multiculturally sensitive and responsive housing policy and practices. She admonished the Manning Administration to cater for the shelter needs of all sections of our plural society by treating them fairly and equally in the public housing initiative. Montano (D) who belongs to a natural Portuguese constituency in his ignorance and arrogance branded this appeal as well as other reasonable aspects of Senator Mahabir's speech as "complete foolishness".

Montano (D) proceeded to misinform and mislead the Senate on at least two matters. He denied categorically that the NHA had recently issued a $1.4bn Fixed Rate Housing Bonds on the eve of its demise and its replacement by the successor Housing Development Corporation. The bond issue was contained in an NHA Prospectus published in the Newsday (17 August, p. 34). He misinformed the Senate that it originated exclusively from the Ministry of Finance.

Secondly on the outstanding question of the 11-year delay of the renewal of the leases of the residents of Frederick Settlement, Montano (D) stated quite categorically that that matter was the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources. It is in fact being dealt with by the Ministry of Housing via its agency The Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Committee (SILWC). That was dubbed as complete foolishness on the part of Montano (D).

Montano (D) called "complete foolishness" Senators Mahabir's call for Government to provide "serviced lots" in addition to completed units to accelerate the housing programme. This proposal was implemented at La Paille Gardens, Dyette Trace, Cunupia and in Charlieville with enormous success. Potential house- owners supervised and financed through a TTMF loan facility the building of their own homes to harmonise with their family and cultural needs and religious practices and rituals. The result was a pleasing varied facade in house- styling and appearance that gave these communities class, enhanced real estate values and a real sense of ownership. That was, however also complete foolishness for Montano (D).

It is well known secret that Government's housing programme is underpinned by an agenda to establish its NHA housing projects in the eleven marginal constituencies where it can reconstitute the ethnic balance for electioneering purposes. In this way it is re-locating its supporters outside of their existing communities. Senator Montano (D) suggests that all State lands are located in the East-West Corridor whereas in fact 77,000 acres of Caroni's lands belong to Government outside of this corridor and are available for NHA housing developments.

Montano (D) had the gall to state that private house owners built sub-standard homes. For him the NHA constructed "proper world-class standard" houses. He even suggested that there was no demand for houses outside of the East-West Corridor to justify providing 80% of the houses in Afro-dominated areas.

It is clear that the Manning Administration has no overt established policy on housing. What policy will the new Housing Development Corporation implement when there is none in existence? Its programme is adhocracy-determined. It is also a conduit for dispensing political quid pro quo and patronage.

This is what Kenneth Lalla SC described of the housing situation in 1961:
"All Government housing schemes and/or self -help housing projects went to Africans."

After 43 years on Independence has the configuration of public housing changed in any substantial way?

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