Opinion

Editorial: Loopholes Show Gaps In Housing Authority’s Vision

This time huge loopholes as big as the houses now springing up under Housing Authority subdivided lots are emerging.
01 Feb 2019 10:00
Editorial: Loopholes Show Gaps In Housing Authority’s Vision
Minister for Housing and Community Development, Premila Kumar.

The Housing Authority of Fiji has come under the spotlight yet again.

This time huge loopholes as big as the houses now springing up under Housing Authority subdivided lots are emerging.

The loopholes are so big that the initial vision set by the authority to provide affordable housing for low income earners in urban centres are merely words on paper and nothing more.

In recent years the authority has expanded its services to include mortgage financing for middle to high income earners.

But some Fijians are taking advantage of the gap within the Housing Authority regulations for their own gain. This issue has become so prevalent that many have lost faith in the processes set by the authority.

Feedback from the article posted on the Fiji Sun Online Facebook page were largely pessimistic about the authority.

Some shared their frustration of when they had applied for a lot more than 10 years ago and were still waiting.

Minister for Housing and Community Development, Premila Kumar has a big task at hand.

She knows that the loopholes can only be addressed by solid policies that will deter people from taking advantage of the system and at the same time skew the housing market.

 

The loopholes that Ms Kumar will have to address include the following:

  • Despite owning homes previously, people allegedly lied on their declaration that they do not own homes, but went onto purchase subsidised land through the Housing Authority;
  • Some live in squatter settlements, but allegedly acquired the Housing Authority lots – only to sell it off to make a big profit while they continued to reside in squatter areas, waiting for Government to regularise settlements and give them land at next to no cost;
  • Land being bought at subsidised rates are allegedly being sold off at a much higher rate for massive profit,
  • Applicants who really need the lots are left at a disadvantage and have had their applications sitting with the Housing Authority for more than 12 years now.

When a Housing Authority lot is being sold for close to a million dollars at the Tacirua subdivision, it is clear that the regulation needs a complete overhaul.

 

Perhaps Ms Kumar should consider the following:

  • Once an applicant secures a lot, the land cannot be resold for a minimum of 10 years
  • A stringent verification process to be implemented with the authority working closely with stakeholders like the Fiji Revenue and Custom Services, Ministry of Women and Poverty Alleviation, Banks, Fiji National Provident Fund and employers
  • Significantly improve customer service Low income earners, who genuinely want to buy lots and build their own homes, will be the big losers if we do not fix this problem. Like any hardworking Fijian, they deserve their own home as well.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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