Former Housing Minister, Dr Roodal Moonilal has described Government’s decision to scrap the Land for the Landless programme as “backward and heartless.”
Housing Minister Randal Mitchell made the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Moonilal issued the following statement:
“The decision of the Rowley regime to scrap the successful and innovative Land for the Landless programme is a typically backward and heartless move of an uncaring and reckless government.
The programme was carefully designed to promote the ethos of land and home ownership and to empower the working masses. The well-conceived plan was modelled after similar programmes in developed countries but adapted to suit local needs.
In six months of the programme, there were more than 60,000 applicants, and seven Land Settlement Agency (LSA) sites were fully developed. By September 2015, some 1,200 lots were ready for distribution.
There were three nationally televised lottery draws, at which 400 people were selected to benefit from the Land for the Landless initiative. In disbanding the programme, Minister of Housing Randall Mitchell has not indicated what will happen with respect to those recipients.
The Ministry of Housing now faces legal action from persons who were selected in the random draws and who have a legitimate expectation of obtaining lots of land.
The plan of the Rowley regime to re-open applications and to make the existing database null-and-void is wrong, wicked and unfair.
The Government has moved in a high-handed and insensitive manner to establish a Housing Committee to be chaired by the Prime Minister, to determine who gets State land. Not only is this a politicisation of the process, but it is also a recipe for corruption and nepotism.
The callous decision to cancel the land distribution programme compounds the absence of construction of any houses by the Ministry of Housing and the virtual privatisation of this undertaking.