Mortgagors at the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) collectively owe nearly $1 billion in arrears, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.
Addressing Parliamentarians in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Dr. Sands said a collective $863 million in arrears are owed.
Since the Free National Movement (FNM) has been in office, Dr. Sand said, the figure represents a reduction year-over- year of $121 million, and a four per cent reduction in mortgages in arrears.
The figures were revealed during the health minister’s contribution to the recently tabled Affordable Housing Bill.
The bill is part of the Minnis administrations promise of an ambitious housing programs to offer low-cost homes to first-time home buyers.
The bill seeks to promote greater access to affordable homes through the grant of certain exemptions for the building of dwelling homes, on land situated within a government owned subdivision.
Sands said the government aims to provide these homes to persons who go above and beyond for the country, as well as close the gap between “those who have and those who don’t”.
“The people that we want to target with this bill are the persons who do an excellent job in this country,” he said.
“I am speaking about people like nurses, I am speaking about people like policeman. I am speaking about people like teachers, all of whom contribute mightily to the development of this country, but who have been unable to afford to live the Bahamian dream.”
Public Service Minister Brensil Rolle said the lots offered to the public will be less than $30,000. He also said the government has 300 lots available immediately for those who qualify.
“From my experience … I suggest … once this program is approved you have to find plenty, plenty more lots because the first 300 already gone in Dignity Gardens the rest in Spring City and other places in Abaco and Moss Town, Exuma. They are automatically gone because persons can now afford and reasonably get a house for $100,000,” he said,
Under the bill, applicants will be eligible for exemption from customs duties and excise tax on any and all materials necessary for the construction of a home on the land, for a period of two years from the date of the approval from the minister, or within an extended period.
If an applicant fails to act within the allotted time, the minister shall retake possession or title of the service lot and make any equitable restitution.