Neighbourhood Upgrading and Citizens Security Programmes Launched.

I read this very interesting report in today's Newsday. I wish that we could have some more information about the thinking that went into developing these initiatives and public reports on how they are progressing and the outcomes. Like Maria Montessori, I believe that living conditions play a major part in the uplifting or stifling of human potential. Improved standards in housing along with increased access to that improved housing will go a long way towards creating an atmosphere of inclusion.

‘Love thy neighbour’
By Clint Chan Tack and Reshma Baal
Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday | Wednesday, February 9 2011

GOVERNMENT and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) yesterday signed a US$50 million loan agreement for the launch of a Neighbourhood Upgrading Programme (NUP) which is geared towards improving the standard of housing in the country; foster a culture of “love thy neighbour” in communities and help reduce the level of crime in the country.

The signing ceremony took place at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

The NUP was one of two Government-IDB initiatives launched yesterday and IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno said these were just the start of a US$430 million development programme which Government and the bank will be collaborating on during the course of the year. IDB documents obtained by Newsday shows the loan comprises sums of US$50 million and US$10 million from the Government respectively.

The objective of the NUP is to “help improve the living conditions of lower and middle income groups by regularising tenure and conditions in squatter settlements across the country, improving housing conditions and strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Housing and its agencies.”

Addressing the signing ceremony, Moreno said the NUP was part of “a very broad agenda” which the bank has with the Government this year. Stating the IDB sent teams to this country last year to “do a large number of things to support a development strategy that we believe is critical in a number of areas,” Moreno disclosed: “Here we are speaking in the total of US$430 million that the bank will be employing in Trinidad and Tobago. That’s a record number.”

Outside of housing, Moreno said the bank hopes to partner with Government in other areas such as security, development of alternative sources of energy and early childhood education. “Our larger interest here is to look at the programme that we want to develop in the course of this year.

These are all programmes which at the end of the day can really change the lives of people,” he said.

Housing and Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said the NUP will help his ministry to intensify its efforts at regularisation and the provision of amenities in selected communities across the country. Apart from improving the provision of social amenities and critical infrastructure such as roads and electricity, Moonilal said the NUP “is also geared towards fighting crime and ensuring safety in communities as well.” He added that removal of the “squalor and destitution” which has become a feature of many communities, will improve the quality of life of people who live there and help to reduce crime.

Moonilal said the programme will also allow for the provision of grants and subsidies to low-income families, Moonilal gave the assurance that there will be a rigorous system of checks and balances to ensure that “the money will reach the targeted communities and those most in need.” “We will have enormous checks and balances,” he said. Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said the NUP was one of several initiatives which Government would be undertaking with the IDB that will “ ignite the process that will restore confidence and growth in the economy.”

Recalling that Government reached agreement with the IDB on a US$200 million loan for support of its Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), Dookeran said, “What we have done today is that we have embarked on a larger programme of activities. So in a sense this is the beginning of getting the resources to bring development to Trinidad and Tobago.”

Dookeran disclosed there is a “whole pipeline of projects” which will be undertaken this year with the bank’s help and much of the funding for these projects will come by way of grants. In addition, Dookeran said Government has obtained a grant of US$800,000 from the IDB “to develop the regulatory framework for private and public sector development.”

Speaking later at the launch of the Citizens Security Programme at the Success/Laventille Secondary School, Moreno said Government had approached the bank to fund construction of proposed TT$7.2 billion highway from San Fernando to Point Fortin.

He said however the IDB is focussed on helping fund a US$300 million road restoration project which Government announced last week.

“We are focussing all our energies in the US$300 million project to assist in the restoration of all highways in the country, and to look at ways to have better maintenance of those roads,” Moreno said. He also said an additional US$130 million will be used to fund combination projects, such as water and sanitation, climate change and energy, “especially clean energy.” Moreno said all the loans will be granted to TT at a rate of 1.17 percent.
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!