Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 23, 2017 (SKNIS): Institutions extending lines of credit to the National Housing Corporation (NHC) have been assured that the Government of National Unity is committed to restoring the reputation of the NHC as a “credit worthy” entity.
Minister of Human Settlement, Honourable Eugene Hamilton, said that when he took the leadership reigns for the corporation in 2015, he discovered that there were no properly completed audited accounts dating back more than 20 years. In addition, NHC was indebted to a number of institutions, including some $140 million alone to the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board. Government therefore had to negotiate with creditors.
Minister Hamilton stated that the loans “had to be reorganized in a way that we were looking concessionary rates, paying interest alone for so many years, and then to step up later to pay interest on principle. It is a 40 year new agreement [that will] be able to get NHC on a path to pay its loan,” he said.
The government minister added that the Social Security Board was somewhat “skeptical” to fund the Unity Housing Solution Programme launched on February 17, 2017. The programme proposes to provide 300 homes at a minimum in various parishes across St. Kitts, at a cost of $50 million.
“Under the Team Unity Government, the NHC will respond to its creditors properly and I can assure those who offered us a line of credit that we will be ahead of our game in dealing with our creditors,” Honourable Hamilton said.
In response to the lack of proper auditing, government added personnel to the accounts section of NHC. “We are at the point now, where in 2017, because … we have strengthened the accounts department to be able to put before auditors in 2017, the audited statements of the institution dating all the way back to the turn of the century,” Minister Hamilton stated, noting that he is hopeful he will be able to lay these accounts in Parliament by the end of the year.