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Not the way

marciadottin, [email protected]

Not the way

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SACKED CHAIRMAN of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) Marilyn Rice-Bowen has taken Michael Lashley to task over his leadership of the Ministry of Housing and Lands.Yesterday at a media briefing at her Graeme Hall Park, Christ Church residence, she accused Lashley of by-passing the NHC board in making decisions with respect to projects funded by the NHC.She said though she received no explanation as to the reason for her termination, Lashley’s “attitude and disposition” led to an impasse between them.“There were fundamental differences between the Minister of Housing and Lands and the board in terms of our interpretation of established rules and protocols, as well as the role and function of the board in respect of certain NHC projects.“The fully established rule is that in respect of all NHC funded projects, the board recommends and the minister is free to accept or reject any such recommendation. Regrettably, in some instances, the board was never afforded the opportunity to give due or any consideration to and/or make an appropriate recommendation in respect of some NHC projects,” she said.Rice-Bowen said despite strides made at NHC under her stewardship, she was disappointed that issues related to the awarding of contracts to small contractors were not adequately addressed. She said many of them were on the brink of failure.“I have repeatedly sought, without success, to persuade the minister to buy into the concept outlined in the DLP’s Manifesto of 2008, of awarding a far greater portion of NHC contracts to small contractors,” she said.Rice-Bowen noted that despite her best efforts and “alerts”, she could not ensure that a contract be put in place with CLICO Holdings Barbados Limited with respect to ongoing work at Constant, St George.In April, Lashley told Parliament that contracts for more than 100 Government-commissioned houses had been granted to small contractors. He identified projects at Constant, St George, Marchfield, St Philip, French Village, St Peter and Tweedside Road, St Michael.Lashley also indicated that Government had negotiated a $40 million loan with FirstCaribbean Bank for further housing projects and said small contractors would play a pivotal role in the programme. He said $10 million out of that loan would be used for starter homes and added small contractors would be responsible for four projects at Lancaster 1 and 2, St James, as well as River and Parish Land, St Philip.“We have great confidence in the small contractors of Barbados, and that is why we want them to be involved as part of the country’s capital works programme,” he said then, noting 24 small contractors would be used for more than 200 starter homes.  When contacted yesterday, Lashley said he would not be responding to Rice-Bowen. (WG)