GOL Must Invest in Housing Sector

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has underscored the need for the Government of Liberia (GOL) to increase investment in the housing sector. She observed that public investment in housing would be of great relief to low-income earners, giving them the opportunity for better homes and accommodations. She noted that affordable housing creates more jobs and incomes that contribute to the overall improvement of the economy.

President Sirleaf made the statements on Thursday, December 10 at the official issuance of ownership certificate to National Housing Authority’s (NHA) Brewerville Estate residents, held in Monrovia under the auspices of NHA and in collaboration with the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment ( LBDI). The President called on sector institutions to ensure that affordable housing is available to all Liberians, irrespective of their location and financial status.

 Sixteen tenants namely: Messie A. B. Allen, Chea Romeo Brooks, James Kesseley; Patricia A. Darpoh, Jacqueline S. McCritty, Hashme A. Kromah; Dayor N. Wisseh, Princess Pratt and Zedrous Kokeh received temporary ownership of their homes in Brewerville ; while David K. Doe, who made 100 per cent payment for his mortgage, received his registered deeds. Others who received temporary certificates of ownership are: Novella W., Movella L. Johnson, Evangeline Johnson; Weade S. W. Sheriff, Roseline Jeh, Amos Noweh; Nahdi and Tolbert Kerkulah. They are the first tenants to occupy 16 of the NHA’s 53 housing units in Brewerville.

The Liberian leader commended the tenants for taking a bold step to have their own homes. She lauded Central Bank of Liberia’s (CBL) Executive Governor Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, who invested seed fund of US$10 million in LBDI, in order to commence the mortgage sector in 2012. She also commended the Management of LBDI headed by its president and CEO Mr. John B. S. Davies, for their innovation in choosing mortgages as a product.

She thanked NHA Management headed by Managing Director Samuel Wlue and NASCORP for their bold steps in restarting the housing sector.

“The public housing program was initiated by the government of President William R. Tolbert during the late 1970s. This process was spearheaded by NHA and the National Housing and Savings Bank; but the outbreak of the Liberian civil crisis rendered the sector dormant,” the President recalled.

President Sirleaf noted that though investment in housing is not an asset in a conventional economic sense, it enhances the services sector and creates major contribution to gross national product (GNP) through the jobs that are created, through the local content where people buy things that are made and produced in country.

She wants those involved in the sector to lay emphasis on local content so that all of the materials used for the construction is not imported. This, she said, will enable the economy to grow.

Speaking earlier, Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, called on stakeholders to continue to search for new ideas as the country goes through transformation. Minister Konneh named the innovation that brought about mortgage as being a product of LBDI, which is to bring about affordable housing for Liberians, adding that it needs support and sustainance.

Minister Konneh, who is also the Board Chairman of LBDI, described housing as a fundamental right of every Liberians; “and as such there is a need for more investment to be directed to the sector.”

Speaking also at the occasion was LBDI CEO John Davies, whose bank is paying for the mortgages to NHA on behalf of the tenants. He said 180 Liberians from across the country have already benefitted from the US$10 million seed mortgage fund provided by CBL. “It is this one mortgage product that LBDI has roll-out that is being enjoyed by only Liberians because it is a requirement that one must be a Liberian before he can benefit from this scheme,” said Mr. Davies.

The LBDI boss disclosed that about 80 percent of the US$10 million by CBL placement has already been disbursed by LBDI noting: “We are financing estate housing, commercial housing and individual housing.” According to Mr. Davies, the interest rate on the LBDI housing/mortgage financing is a flat rate not more than 8 percent.

For his part, CBL Executive Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones explained how he promised President Sirleaf that CBL would ensure that LBDI makes available affordable housing for Liberians. “Low income housing creates economic opportunity and employment for the people,” said Governor Jones. “This is just the beginning and we can assure you, Madam President, that there are lots more to come,” he concluded.   

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