One of the country’s leading charities, Food for the Poor, is being accused by parliamentarians of providing ‘substandard’ houses to Jamaicans.
The accusation was levelled by MPs on both sides of the political divide in today’s meeting of the Parliament’s Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee.
One committee member says people are sometimes unable to move into the houses soon after they’re built, suggesting they often need further work.
Members of the parliamentary committee today questioned whether the country is getting value for money for houses being built by Food for the Poor.
Committee Chairman, Mikael Phillips, says its houses are substandard, and in some cases termite-infested.
Committee members also expressed concerned that the materials being used to build the house are being sourced from overseas.
The cost of each unit is reportedly valued at USD$6,400.
The government pays half through money borrowed from the Petrocaribe Development Fund.
Food for the Poor is now asking for an USD$800 increase to satisfy increasing costs. But North East St. Catherine MP, Leslie Campbell, is against its request. He suggested MPs be given the money to build the houses, instead of Food for the Poor.
Meanwhile, Works Minister and MP for South West St. Catherine, Everald Warmington, also expressed surprise that Food for the Poor continues to build houses under the recently-launched HOPE programme despite a directive from the Prime Minister that they be suspended.
Some Members of the Committee are slamming the process used by Food for the Poor to allocate units.
The programme constructs 1200 units each year across all 63 constituencies. It reportedly provides a maximum of 20 units per constituency.
However, Director of Projects in the Ministry of Economic Growth, Lanford Chambers, provided a report to Parliament showing that since September last year some constituencies received no allocations.
Others constituencies received double their allocations for the same period. Mr. Chambers says this was because of incomplete applications from some MPs.
However, North West Manchester MP, Mikael Phillips, who chairs the committee, says that’s unfair.
He called the process ‘shabby’, saying there’re no clear guidelines governing it.
The matter is to be further discussed at next week’s meeting of the committee.