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Opposition calls for more help with housing

Opinions & Editorial 23 Jun, 2022 Follow News

David Wight

David Wight, MP for George Town West, brought a Private Member’s Motion before Parliament last week calling for increased assistance for Caymanian home buyers.

Citing the rising cost of land and homeownership making it increasingly challenging for young Caymanians looking to build or purchase their first home, the sharp increase in costs in goods and supplies and also impending rises in interest rates pushing up mortgage rates, the MP is calling for a raft of assistance for home buyers who currently feel outpriced by the market.

Finding a way to create affordable housing had always been a priority for the Opposition when they were in power, the MP said, in part because it was a particular area of cost pressure impacting Caymanians, but also because it was an area they could make an immediate difference.

Given the “eye-watering” hike in cost of living this year, the Motion, he said: “aims to provide practical support to Caymanians who are currently facing extraordinarily challenging financial circumstances.”

“The burden seeks to reduce the burden of stamp duty on all Caymanians and also to provide increased assistance to Caymanians looking to buy their first home,” he outlined.

The Motion that he set before Parliament aimed to urge government to take urgent action that would at least provide some relief in the cost-of-living crisis facing Caymanians, he said. Specifically, he asked that the government consider as a matter of urgency amending the Stamp Duty Act, as follows:

For first time Caymanian property/home buyers:

(a) 0% duty on land-only with a value of up to CI$200,000; and for houses, apartments, or other dwelling purchases with a market value of up to CI$500,000, for owner-occupation; And

(b) 2% duty on the value above CI$200,000 on land purchases; And for houses, apartments, or other dwellings purchased for owner occupation, on the value above CI$500,000.

(c) In cases where the property is transferred to two (2) or not more than ten (10) persons who are first time Caymanian Homeowners:

i. 0% duty for bare land purchases with a market value of up to CI$350,000 and houses, apartments, or other dwelling purchases with a market value of up to CI$600,000, for owner-occupation; and

ii. 2% duty on the value above CI$350,000 on raw land purchases; and for houses, apartments or other dwellings purchased for owner occupation, on the value above CI$600,000.

For property purchased by a Caymanian that does not fall into the ‘First Time Caymanian Property/Home Buyers scheme’

(d) 5% Stamp duty for Caymanian persons only.

The Motion outlined that there was money available to meet the Opposition’s requests, with the announcement by the government of a record budget surplus of some $221 million as of March 2022, which included an effective windfall of $18.6 million more than was initially budgeted.

“A windfall that should allow government to reduce stamp duty to Caymanians in a meaningful way, especially for housing,” the Motion stated.

Mr Wight said while the Opposition was not blaming the government for the cost-of-living crisis, which was due to the economic fallout from the Covid pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the government would be held to account on how they dealt with it.

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