Government will have to shell out an estimated $37 million dollars to repair houses damaged by Tropical Storm Tomas. Making the disclosure at a Press Conference at Government Headquarters yesterday, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said it was an expense for which government had not planned. But with confirmed reports of damage to 1000 houses, and expectations that the number could rise as high as 1 400 or 1500, the Prime Minister said government would be going to Parliament on Tuesday to get a legislative amendment to access the Catastrophe Fund which currently has about $23 million. He added another $17 million had been sourced from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. The Prime Minister said storm damage had impacted more harshly on chattel houses in the lower income bracket and “has revealed a lot of low income housing stock is in a very bad state of repair”. About $5 million of the money being mobilised for national reconstruction will go towards payment of rental accommodation for those people whom government had been forced to accommodate in private housing and the few in hotels, as a result of their losing their roofs. Stuart revealed that 200 of the 1000 damaged houses will have to be replaced, and remarked: “I have to confess that I was flabbergasted at the fragility of the housing accommodation in Barbados.” Questioned about the absence of a building code for Barbados, the Prime Minister said it was “absolutely necessary to impose building standards in Barbados” and added that a building code was “actively under consideration”. Meanwhile a Ministerial oversight committee headed by Minister of Home Affairs and Attorney-General Adriel Brathwaite has been established by the Cabinet. Also sitting on that committee are the Ministers of Social Care, Housing, Transport and Works and Finance as well as representatives from the Department of Emergency Management. That committee which meets next Monday, is mandated to report to Cabinet fortnightly and to the Prime Minister on demand. The Prime Minister made it clear that not all homeowners with hurricane damage would be entitled to assistance. “Where insurance policies have existed we would expect the insurance companies to be responsible for the process of reconstruction,” Stuart said. The Prime Minister also indicated government would be talking with insurance companies in an effort to secure broader access to coverage for low income chattel-house owners.