Botswana: Government Frustrates Bhc

Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) Chief Executive Reginald Motswaiso has blamed all the parastatal's failures on government, saying it impedes the corporation's desire for positive achievements, leading to frustrations.

Motswaiso vented out his frustrations over government when giving perfomance overview of BHC before the parliamentary committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises on Tuesday. He regretted that government has for the long time delayed the rental hikes for BHC houses, a factor which he considers to be impediment towards generating efficient profit for BHC survival.

"Rental prices were last adjusted in 2004 hence this is not seating well with us at all. Rental hike will make enough profit that will be useful for other project developments since we are self-financing. If water and electricity are subsidized why cant houses be subsidized as well," he protested.

BHC Act disaster

Asked on what delays rental hiking, Motswaiso pointed out that BHC Act is also an impediment as it binds BHC desires only on the hands of the minister and cabinet, calling for the repeal of act.

According to the BHC Act, the Corporation applies to the Minister for a rental increase, who then consults with Cabinet before approving or rejecting the application. He said he has been writing regularly to the parent ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development which is supposed to take the proposal to the cabinet for consideration.

Motswaiso being disgruntled indicated that BHC hardly gets feedback on their proposals noting that with the latest request two months ago received response that their proposal has been turned down.

Gabane-Mmankgodi MP Pius Mokgware said the BHC Act needs to be reviewed so that it accords the parastatal independence to regulate its prices based on the continuous changing value of property in the market.

Rentals across the BHC's properties were last increased 15 years ago while in the provisional, the Corporation has struggled with higher inflation and materials supply costs, which have contributed to abrupt delays in maintenance of the rental properties. BHC boss, however, remained optimistic that the newly Tsholofelo 372 units will sell out efficiently as this will be helpful to recover costs and top up the drying BHC purse.

He said the P 440 160 000 price of the units will still remain as it is adding that the houses will be sold on mortgage inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT).

Govt project angers BHC

Displeasure that Motswaiso further raised against government is the SHHA Turnkey housing projects formerly under Local Government authorities being the district councils.

It was assigned to BHC following the introduction of Single Housing Authority (SiHA) through Presidential Cabinet Directive CAB20 (B) 2010 on July 2010. The presidential directive amongst others ordered the transfer of all housing implementation programmes to Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) as a single housing delivery vehicle.

Under the turnkey project, BHC has been mandated on a paltry considered budget wage from government to build at least 17 SHHA turnkey houses in all 57 constituencies countrywide. For Motswaiso, BHC is running in a huge cost for building the houses across the country noting that the P 45 000 to P 60 000 initial budget per the house from government is low and prompts BHC to incur huge costs.

"If BHC is failing is not our intention but all fault of the government. This project is bleeding our coffers harshly, because we only told to work with the little amount we are given but that money is not sufficient. And government will tells us that they will be no surplus to the money," said frustrated BHC boss.

Motswaiso further revealed that it also an uphill battle in implementing the project as it is anticipated by the government, the reason being that constructing companies shun the tenders."We also have a big problem which will also brought before the government over reluctance by the companies to construct the houses owing to the project being not profitable to them. Nobody responded to us at all" he added.

Lack of service land is also a paramount challenge that BHC continues to encounter into developing more property for leasing adding that another challenge in areas where BHC has been allocated land lacks connection to services such as water and electricity.

Responding to Motswaiso' frustrations, MP Mephato Reatile voiced concern on how the government has just seemed to have thrown its brain child project on BHC shoulders, but not providing enough resources. He observed that the councils were also struggling to fully execute the project decrying budget constraints similarly to BHC, pointing out that a new development shall materialise to ease BHC burden.

For his part, another committee member Gilbert Mangole said land has been since availed for BHC at Pilane village in Kgatleng district to build houses, therefore urging BHC to utilise the land.

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