MANAGING Director of the National Housing Trust Cecile Watson said yesterday that since the Trust's establishment in 1976 it has met the needs of about 25 per cent of its contributors.
"I would say that you can safely say that there is about a 25 per cent of NHT contributors who have had a benefit or are currently having a benefit," Watson, who has been head of the NHT since 2010, told Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) at its meeting at Gordon House.
"[In terms of] the percentage of contributors enjoying a benefit, I think we have about 420,000 or so contributors and we have on average about 100,000 mortgages currently on our books. So that means that you could say we are just shy of 25 per cent of our contributors who are getting a benefit currently," she said.
Newly appointed government member of the committee, Damion Crawford, was not convinced that the managing director meant that the 25 per cent referred to all contributors since 1976, and asked her whether the 25 per cent only referred to those who were currently benefiting.
"...So, within the 400,000, more than 25 per cent would have benefited or are currently benefiting?" he asked.
"I use the 25 per cent because I said 400,000, but it is closer to 414,000 or so (who have contributed), give or take, right. So, I made the estimate that, based on who would have had retired loans, it would probably average off at about at 25 per cent," Watson explained.
"That's what I understood her to be saying," committee chairman Edmund Bartlett said.
"That 25 per cent would include those who have previously benefited?" an obviously surprised Crawford asked, again.
"Yes. I don't have any empirical evidence with me now, in terms of how many have retired loans, but I would imagine that given our 37 years, you are probably talking about another 14,000 or so (who have paid off their loans and are still contributing)," she insisted.
However, Watson also insisted that the $45.6 billion, which the NHT has agreed to pay over to the Government over the next four years for "fiscal consolidation" or budget support, would not affect contributors' access to benefits or returns from their contributions to the trust after seven years, as the funds would be transferred from annual inflows which were sufficient to meet both commitments.
The disclosures came as the PAAC reviewed the NHT's performance between October and December 2012, as well as its financial position up to January 31, this year.