Monday, Feb 17, 2020
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Freedom of information

Dear Editor,

 

I have not heard recently any cry for the Freedom of Information Act.  It makes me wonder that when it finally happens, will we know what to do with it?

I raise this question when trying to determine the difference between a reporter and a journalist.  Which of these should do investigative reporting and which just sits back and waits for a story to be handed to them?

My dilemma is that recently I have seen several stories in the press in which my name was mentioned but not one reporter/journalist contacted me to verify the information or to get a more in-depth report relative to what was being printed.

We can do better than this.

The story I refer to is the one concerning the Ministry of Housing and this ‘$5,000’.

When I saw this, I thought, “Here we go again; an election must be near.”

I have explained to anyone who asked and wanted to know the truth that there was nothing sinister about this matter.  But why let the truth get in the way of a good story.

At the time the decision was made to include this amount, the government was carrying on its staff the cost of several contract officers employed specifically for the housing program.

These officers were paid from the corporation sole account, the intention was that the account could be replenished by adding the $5,000 on to the cost of each unit.

The homeowner was paying for having the expertise of the officers related to the subdivision and home construction and development added to their unit cost.

The Bahamas Mortgage Corporation is responsible for paying all the development and construction costs in the subdivision; therefore, in the price of each unit is all the associated cost to make this happen.

This is not always easy in that some lots may have a deficiency that requires additional work by the contractor that may make the cost of that unit prohibitive.  So therefore, just as the cost of the infrastructure is shared between all lots, a contingency amount is added so that one homeowner is not forced to bear this additional cost.

In spite of trying to cover all the related cost, the housing program is subsidized by the government and not all cost is passed on to the homeowner.

We have seen that an appraisal performed immediately after a homeowner takes possession of their home, would show there is a marked increase in value to the homeowner.

The government is providing an essential service by making low to middle income families homeowners and by providing our citizens with an asset that can have an effect on families for generations to come.

 

– Gordon C. Major

 

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