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|Finance Minister praises NBS role in national housing programme|
|Sunday, 17 June 2012 21:47|
FINANCE Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh has recognised the remarkable contribution of the New Building Society Limited (NBS) in the national housing programme.
In delivering remarks at the official opening of the spanking new NBS Head Office Building, located at Lot 1 North Road and Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown, Dr Singh congratulated the Society and its leadership for “the outstanding role that the NBS has played in ensuring continued access to affordable financing”.
“I wish to congratulate the NBS, not only on the occasion of the addition of this new Chief Office to your infrastructure, but more generally for the remarkable contribution that you have made to the national housing programme,” he stated.
He said the building makes a phenomenal contribution to the city landscape, and is certainly a very impressive edifice which brightens up and enhances the attractiveness of downtown city environs.
“More importantly, in addition to being an important addition to the city landscape, I believe it does also represent a significant signal of confidence in the future of the Guyanese economy,” Minister Singh stated.
He took the opportunity to wish the Society continued success as it continues its work; and said the Government has long recognised the importance of a vibrant, strong, and well-managed financial system, and how critical such a system is to the overall economic health of the country and the economic wellbeing of its people.
“For this reason, over the years, we have spared no effort in ensuring that the critical prerequisites for such a strong financial system are in place,” he noted. Those prerequisites, he said, include an appropriate legislative environment.
He insisted that, over the past 10 years or so, one would see a consistent and painstaking effort to ensure the existence of such a legislative framework, such as a modern Bank of Guyana Act and Financial Institutions Act, or the existence of the administrative capability to discharge the responsibilities of strong and effective supervision.
“Today, I believe we have strong legislation in place as a result of a deliberate effort to ensure that these prerequisites are in place; and I believe we have strong and effective supervisory capability residing in the Central Bank,” he underscored.
Dr Singh said those efforts have included bringing the NBS within the formal regulatory perimeter of the Central Bank, a legislative initiative which was taken a few years ago.
“Having done this, we have seen a manifesting of our prior expectation of the close correlation between this strong financial system and vibrancy in the economy as a whole; and indeed, the correlation between things like growth in home ownership and national prosperity,” he stated.
He alluded to the extremely successful national housing programme which has been at the centre of social sector investments over the years.
The successes of this programme, he said, are evident for all to see; with entire new communities that did not exist before, and vibrant centres of population growth. He was referring to areas like Diamond and La Parfaite/Harmonie.
“…which, just a few years ago, were essentially abandoned cane fields, and today provide homes and homes that are owned by tens of thousands of Guyanese families,” he posited. “We have moved from a point where, 15 or 20 years ago, the hope of owning one’s own home was a distant -- and for the greater part unrealistic -- dream to where we are today; and that is a point where a young professional can certainly aspire to own their own home,” he reminded.
“This has not been an accidental accomplishment. It has been a specific and deliberate objective that we set ourselves as a government some years ago, and that we clearly have made considerable progress towards achieving,” Singh pointed out.
“The NBS has played an extremely important role in ensuring affordable access to financing for home ownership, and I am particularly pleased (with) the growth that the Society has recorded over the years, growth in its asset base, growth in its lending both in terms of numbers and value,” he expressed.
To this end, the Finance Minister referred to the pitch made by Immediate Past Chairman of NBS, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, for an increase in the mortgage ceiling, and noted that the Society has, in the space of just a few years, “moved the ceiling from $1.5M to $3M, to $8M, to where it is today $12M”.
“Without a doubt, the society has made a tremendous contribution to the growth that we have seen in the housing sector, which in turn has contributed to construction activity, establishment of businesses, and the overall growth and dynamism that we have seen in the economy,” he reiterated.
“One often hears reference to sustained growth and the fact that we have had uninterrupted growth in the Guyanese economy since 2006; but all of these parts contribute to the whole, and there can be no doubt that lending for home ownership, private saving and investment in home ownership have contributed to uninterrupted growth that we have seen in the Guyanese economy.”
Also in attendance at that event were President Donald Ramotar and former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
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