NEWS

Ministry suggests land sales audit

Permanent Secretary for Housing Joshua Wycliffe has suggested to the Board of Directors and management of Housing Authority of Fiji to conduct an audit on Government subsidised land sales in
30 Sep 2018 12:37
Ministry suggests land sales audit
Tacirua

Permanent Secretary for Housing Joshua Wycliffe has suggested to the Board of Directors and management of Housing Authority of Fiji to conduct an audit on Government subsidised land sales in Tacirua.

Responding to queries from the Fiji Sun about the possibility of people selling subsidised properties at an inflated price after a year or two of ownership, Mr Wycliffe said there were caveats in place to prevent such incidents from happening.

“To mitigate the prospects of people selling land within a year or two they put a caveat on the properties they sell so if I buy an affordable segment land I will not be able to sell it for at least 20 years,” Mr Wycliffe said.

“This kind of caveat will be in place for properties that the Government subsidises. We cannot push it for other properties.

“That is the only mitigation that is put in place. What I have asked Housing Authority to do is carry out an audit and I have requested them to look at the possibility of auditing the sales, especially the Tacirua ones where they did the caveat.”

He said the properties that he suggested for auditing are those that were sold when he was the housing authority Chief Executive Officer.

He explained that the audit would particularly pick random properties to see if the owner who bought it was still the owner.

“I would suggest to them to work closely with other agencies that are involved in land transfer, deed and title transfer so it is not so easy to transfer titles if there is a caveat put in place,” Mr Wycliffe said.

“What we will be doing is to ensure that the intention of subsidy is maintained so people do not misuse it. Housing Authority believes it has been effective and the audit will give us a better understanding of it.

“If there is a feeling that there could be an option for people to do that in spite of the caveat and the other restrictions put in place then the only way to do is to conduct an audit.”

Members of the public are advised to report to the Ministry of Housing or housing authority if they are aware of any such incidents.

Meanwhile, 1569 people have benefitted from the First Home Owner’s Scheme so far since its inception in 2014.

Mr Wycliffe said the number of applicants increased over the years, which signified the commitment of the ministry towards ensuring increased home ownership especially within the affordable segment.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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