NHC Drown­ing In Debt!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - An­gel­ica O’DonoghueHolder By

Ti­mothy Man­gal, the Na­tional Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion’s new chair­man, an­nounced this week that the in­sti­tu­tion he in­her­ited is in debt up to its eye­balls. Con­se­quently it suf­fered a lack of tech­ni­cal staff and a num­ber of, what he re­ferred to as, failed projects. It fell to the new man at the head to get the NHC mov­ing again as fast as pos­si­ble. In­deed, Man­gal blamed the sit­u­a­tion on four projects that went nowhere and the nu­mer­ous lit­i­ga­tion woes they face. He cited “the Vieux Fort sit­u­a­tion.”

Un­der the pre­vi­ous UWP ad­min­is­tra­tion, he said, a lawyer had to be hired after lands in Vieux Fort were trans­ferred from the crown own­er­ship to the Cor­po­ra­tion. How­ever, some in­di­vid­u­als claimed the lands as theirs and filed a claim in court. The lawyer de­manded a de­posit of $10,000. She sent the govern­ment a pro­posal of $30,000 to com­plete the case. When the govern­ment changed in 2011, un­der the Kenny An­thony ad­min­is­tra­tion the lawyer was fired in fa­vor of a well-known SLP sup­porter. Then still another lawyer came on board. The cost so far is just un­der $300,000—and the case has not even gone to court.

Mean­while cred­i­tors are de­mand­ing money owed. “We called in the orig­i­nal lawyer,” Man­gal went on. “To my sur­prise she al­ready knew every­thing in my files on the Vieux Fort mat­ter. It made sense to re­hire her and dispense with the ser­vices of the other two lawyers.” It re­mains now for him to sit with the fired lawyers in pur­suit of an am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion. “We need to dis­cover, do they owe us a re­fund since the case has not gone to trial—or do we owe them some kind of com­pen­sa­tion?” The lawyers in ques­tion have not re­sponded.

As for the re­hired lawyer, what­ever she’s is paid will be“nowhere close to what was pro­posed by her ter­mi­nated pre­de­ces­sors.” Another thing: Man­gal says he’s con­fi­dent the NHC will be suc­cess­ful in court. “Any­body can claim prop­erty as his own,” he said. “It’s some­thing else to stand up in court and prove your case. From what I have seen, the lands in ques­tion clearly be­longed to the for­mer Na­tional Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the crown be­fore it was trans­ferred to the NHC. There is no record at the land reg­istry to in­di­cate oth­er­wise. It’s a lot of land, over six hun­dred acres.”

But re­solv­ing the mat­ter has been ex­pen­sive. “It is such sit­u­a­tions that have brought the NHC to be where it is to­day, in a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial trou­ble,” said Man­gal.

He added: “There is al­most two mil­lion dol­lars that the NHC has to honor, that it can­not honor; some­thing has to hap­pen. Pay­ing an ex­or­bi­tant $10,000 a month in rent for the NHC head­quar­ters makes no sense when we can rent for far less from in our own build­ings.”

Ti­mothy Man­gal: The new chair­man of the Na­tional Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion says the statu­tory body is in deep fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

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