In Mia Mottley’s reply to the June 2015 Budget she accused the government of Barbados of making a highly questionable decision. Minister Sinckler – she reported – issued a memo to the Accountant General to advise the Central Bank of Barbados, custodian of the Housing Credit Fund (HCF), to declare a dividend of 25 million dollars as at 31 March 2015. The limited information available indicates that the HCF was setup to support a revolving fund to onlend to financial institutions for mortgages, home improvement and tenantry lots.
In a quest for information BU asked Central Bank board member Dr. Justin Robinson on BU last year to explain the rationale behind the HCF declaring a divided on the HCF. He responded as follows:-
[The] Housing Credit Fund matter would not have come before the Central Bank Board. Not a matter for the board. You can check the governance arrangement for the HCF – Dr. Justin Robinson
We extend a request to Dr. Justin Robinson or any other gatekeeper of the governance rules of the HCF to share for the benefit of the public. BU Completed a search and the obvious location we expected to find relevant information to support the HCF returned a blank page. It is amazing to have to admit the paucity of information in the public domain to explain a public fund. Is this an issue the proclamation of the Freedom of Information Act is meant to address?
Why did the government feel hurried to declare a dividend on a fund setup to support low cost housing? In the absence of not knowing the governance arrangement BU has to assume the core purpose of the fund was to target the low income segment. In the book Low-cost Housing in Barbados: Evolution Or Social Revolution? the authors stated the upper income ceiling to qualify for borrowing in 1983 was BBD16,000 per annum. The non response by the government to the leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley’s revelation is another example of the lack of respect this government has shown to Barbadians.
The most interesting part of the revelation by Mottley was when she declared the reason for paying the dividend was to facilitate a payment of 27.8 million dollars to Preconco, a company owned by Mark Maloney. Was this the transaction which forced the Permanent Secretary Ronald Bascombe to prematurely retire from the ministry of Housing? The payment was to pay for work done at the GROTTO, originally labelled a low income project and of recent relabelled middle income, built at a cost of $5.40 per per square foot. Up to the time of posting this blog the GOTTO apartments remain unoccupied, it is no surprise however that Preconco was paid.
A couple of questions for Minister of Housing Denis Kellman who seems to be finding himself at the centre of some questionable projects and Minister Chris Sinckler who as Exchequer is at the centre of all of the projects.
- Will you share with Barbadians in the interest of transparency the governance rules of the HCF?
- What is the plan for the apartments at the GROTTO.
There is the name Mark Maloney, AGAIN!
Related link: Mottley Blasts Preconco Deal