The Chairman of the National Housing Corporation (NHC), Timothy Mangal, has disclosed that the entity is in debt in the sum of approximately $60 million.
“We found it in very serious financial difficulties,” Senator Mangal told reporters Thursday.
But he explained that although the NHC has been able to stem the flow and turn things around, there is a huge deficit both in recurrent expenditure and liabilities on capital projects with the National Insurance Corporation (NIC), primarily the CDC units.
Mangal revealed that all options are being examined.
“As you know, the National Workers Union is the bargaining agent for the workers of the NHC. Naturally we would have to engage them in that process. We have done so and that is why we had a historic collective meeting with the National Workers Union, the staff,the board and management of NHC,” he explained.
Mangal said the objective was to have everyone contribute to the process in respect of the NHC’s viability.
He told reporters that in time a determination will be made regarding the corporation’s future.
Mangal asserted that the NHC needs to be able to stand on its own two feet.
“We must not necessarily make a profit, but as you know the NHC over the years has not been able to sustain itself because it had done no major housing development projects in the years between 2011 and 2016,” the NHC Chairman observed.
“So as we came in we did the Forestiere housing projects – we recognised small profit margins from that which could help for the operations of the NHC. That is why we went into the PPP with contractors and I can tell you that very soon we’ll be formally launching two projects,” Mangal disclosed.
He asserted that certain things are happening.
However the NHC official told reporters that the corporation needs to sustain its own operations.
“That is what the government of Saint Lucia is asking because too many times before it had to come in,” Mangal recalled.
He noted that in 2014 the then Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration had to step in and bail out the NHC in the sum of $14 million in relation to corporation’s recurrent expenditure debt, with the promise that the corporation would not again find itself in debt.
“We came in in 2016; that recurrent expenditure – meaning just the payment of salaries, utilities and other stuff, had gone back to a deficit of $3.5 million.”
Mangal declared that such a situation is not healthy for any organisation.