Thoughtful Budget : Kumar

She said the budget was designed to navigate those uncertain and challenging times.
29 Jul 2020 15:33
Thoughtful Budget : Kumar
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar outside Parliament on July 28, 2020. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

The 2020/2021 national budget is very thoughtful, progressive and bold, says Minister for Local Government, Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar.

Her two ministries were allocated lower than what they got last year.

Despite that, she said, she supported the budget because it provided opportunities for businesses to drive the economy.

She said the budget was designed to navigate those uncertain and challenging times.

She also called out SODELPA parliamentarian Mosese Bulitavu regarding false information he had been advocating especially regarding housing assistance.

Mr Bulitavu said for the first home grant, only 100 to 150 applicants would benefit and the last time it was announced it was a great failure.

“This programme was introduced in 2014. A total of 2644 Fijian households have benefited from the First Home Ownership initiative since then.

“Government has paid $23.6 million in assistance to these households to help them build or purchase their first home or their first land,” Ms Kumar said.

“With such confidence, he (Mr Bulitavu) misled the house that one has to withdraw funds from the General Account of FNPF to buy or build home.

This is not correct Mr Speaker Sir, General Account can be accessed for education, medical, funeral and unemployment, whereas preserved account is for house and land.”

The Ministry of Housing calculations show 432 households will be assisted in 2020/2021 with $6 million allocated for First Home and First Land grant.

  • Below $50,000 Category – 160 households will benefit this year; 84 pending applications from 2019-20 and 76 for 2020-21 based on a distribution between construction (50) and purchasing (26);
  • $50k to 100k Category – Another 172 households; This is based on a 50/50 ratio between construction and purchases based on past uptake for grants; and
  • The first land grant will also assist another 100 applicants this year.

In 2019-2020 alone, 543 applicants benefited from these grant programmes, according to Ms Kumar.

She said municipal councils were short of the $18.4 million in revenue. This will mean the council would be working smarter.

As a result of the economic impact, revenue streams such as rates, garbage collection fees, stall fees, hiring of sports and events venues, property rentals and parking meter fees are affected.

Ms Kumar said business license registration fee had been waived, which was also a revenue stream for councils.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro


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