NEWS

Government Takes Over Lagilagi Project After Alleged Abuse Of Funds

Premila Kumar said PCN received $12.7 million from the Government, funds from donors and member savings. She said despite all this PCN ran out of funds prior to the completion of the project.
31 May 2019 10:03
Government Takes Over Lagilagi Project After Alleged Abuse Of Funds
Lagilagi Housing on May 30,2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua.

Government will take over the affairs of the Lagilagi Housing project after an investigation found alleged abuse of funds and other anomalies.

Minister for Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar said the investigation was initiated after 370 complaints from residents of Jittu Estate about People’s Community Network’s alleged failure to provide housing at the Lagilagi low-cost housing project.

Mrs Kumar said PCN received $12.7 million from the Government, funds from donors and member savings. She said despite all this PCN ran out of funds prior to the completion of the project.

“The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission did an investigation into these complaints and we have found quite a number of anomalies,” she said.

“We found that the housing was offered to people who were not part of the squatter settlements. People, even as far as overseas, allegedly gave money to certain PCN workers and this money never made it to PCN, but in the respective employee’s bank accounts.

“The FCCC investigation also found loans to PCN staff from the PCN trading account, which were unaccounted for.”

Mrs Kumar said the Lagilagi project was initiated so people living in the squatter settlements could afford proper housing. She said for this purpose Government made the land available.

“The ministry was determined that the Lagilagi Housing Project would no longer be operated by PCN and Government would take over the affairs of the project. Government will also pursue means of housing for more than 70 eligible families who never received any,” she said.

FCCC will pursue court action to evict ineligible tenants occupying the housing project. The Police fraud unit has been notified and will investigate the matter.

PCN director Samuela Saumatua said they would not make any comments because investigations into alleged abuse of funds and procedures were still underway by the Police. He said he had not been notified of Government’s decision.

The Fiji Sun visited the PCN office yesterday and found that the NGO also found it hard to collect weekly payments from families already occupying flats at Lagilagi Housing.

The Lagilagi project allows people living in squatter settlements to own a strata property worth $40,000 in the housing project. Payment is spread over 14 years at $40 a week.

Mrs Kumar said Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption also did their investigation and found that the Government funding of $12.7 million had not been abused.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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