Vol.21 No.118

Wednesday 4 August 2004    

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News
MPs slam BHC for poor service

LEKOPANYE MOOKETSI
8/4/2004 12:31:24 AM (GMT +2)

MEMBERS of Parliament (MP) have expressed concern that the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is rendering poor service to customers. Some of the legislators accused the corporation of not being customer friendly. The MPs voiced their concerns when they were discussing the Housing Projects or other Economic and Technical Cooperation Projects (Loan) (Authorisation) Bill in Parliament yesterday. The proposed law is aimed to authorise a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China for housing projects.


Outspoken Tonota MP, Pono Moatlhodi said he was not happy with the manner in which the BHC was conducting its affairs. "Since we are acquiring loans for the BHC, they should ensure that their customers are well looked after," he charged.

He pointed out that it appeared that the BHC is no longer interested in the tenant purchase scheme but rather preferred the out right purchase of houses. The MP felt that most people could not afford to acquire loans from commercial banks to buy BHC houses. Moatlhodi said BHC tenants should be provided with shelter for their vehicles.

The MP for Kanye, Kebadire Kalake said people who work in towns commute from the rural areas since they can not afford the high BHC rentals. He noted that the rentals were becoming unaffordable for most people. He said it was high time that the corporation considered making houses that are affordable for low income earners.

"If our government is given loans at low interest rates, we should expect people to pay reasonable rentals," he said, adding that Batswana will not be able to benefit from the proposed loan when the rentals are high. He appealed to BHC to build houses in the rural areas because people there need accommodation as well.

The MP for Gaborone North, Michael Mzwinila shared the same view that if the government is granted a soft loan, Batswana should also benefit.

Mzwinila expressed concern about the size of BHC rooms, pointing out that Batswana were people with extended families. The MP said the BHC had announced that they were going to introduce a tenant purchase scheme even for tenants in residential flats. "Batswana are worried by delays in making the flats available for purchase. We would like to see BHC availing the flats to the tenants who are occupying the flats instead of discriminating against them," he said.

Presenting the Bill for its Second Reading, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Baledzi Gaolathe said the government recently approached China for a loan of P117,000,000 to finance the construction of 725 houses in Maun, Jwaneng, Lobatse, Francistown and Gaborone through the BHC. He said the loan agreement will be signed between the government and the Export-Import Bank of China. The loan has a grace period of four years, a repayment period of 15 years and an interest rate of three percent per annum.

Gaolathe said the provision of a concessional loan by the Chinese government would assist a great deal in facilitating housing delivery and promotion of home ownership in Botswana. This concessional loan, he said, would enable BHC to construct houses at a relatively lower cost thereby developing affordable houses for Batswana. The Bill passed through its Third Reading yesterday.

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