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Government In Informal Talks With FNPF For Housing Sector Collaboration

The housing sector and increasing home ownership for Fijians is one of the things Government has been particularly focussed on. And now, informal discussions have been held with the Fiji
03 Nov 2016 11:00
Government In Informal Talks With FNPF For Housing Sector Collaboration
Participants at the two day- Strengthening Pension System & Health Coverage in the Pacific forum with Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

The housing sector and increasing home ownership for Fijians is one of the things Government has been particularly focussed on.

And now, informal discussions have been held with the Fiji National Provident Fund in this area, confirmed the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Low cost housing, or the politically correct term now being affordable housing, is a concept introduced to Fiji decades back but it has not necessarily worked out well.

In that, the value of the housing has depreciated over the years instead of appreciating.

Therefore, Government is looking at Singapore’s housing sector experience to use it as a benchmark and implementing something of a similar sort here.

“The Housing Development Board in Singapore is heavily subisidised,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“The superannuation fund in Singapore allows its members to withdraw in access of 60 per cent to contribute to the purchase of their first home.

“This is why Singapore today has the highest rate of home ownership in the world.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was speaking during the strengthening Pension Systems and Health Coverage in the Pacific Workshop yesterday held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

 

The trick to implementation

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out that with housing there is also a trick.

“We have had for example affordable housing in Raiwaqa and Nabua. A lot these people have spent about two generations in those very modest accommodation,” he said.

“But the reality is, whenever we want to increase home ownership, we must ensure whereby the person owning the first home and that asset must give them to opportunity for social mobility.”

He said these people owning a low cost home, in a few years time when they get a better job, they must be able to buy a bigger house.

“They should be able to move to somewhere else if they choose to,” he said.

“But if the real estate prices in that particular area remains stagnant, or indeed depreciates, then their ability to have social mobility is very limited.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Singapore has been able to executive their strategy quite well and something which we can learn from.

“In their 20 story apartment blocks, they will have relatively expensive apartments, middle level housing and affordable housing,” he said.

“These are sometimes on the same floor or sometimes on different floors but in close proximity. So the idea there is the real estate continues to appreciate.

“And in Fiji that has not really worked and that is the area we are targeting over the next few years.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they are hoping to collaborate with the FNPF and reach out to the World Bank and get their expertise and support on this.

 

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj


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