Politics

Why Informal Settlement Residents Not Eligible For Home Grant: A-G

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was responding to Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya during the 2020-2021 National Budget debate yesterday.
31 Jul 2020 09:13
Why Informal Settlement Residents Not Eligible For Home Grant: A-G
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on July 30, 2020. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

The Attorney-General and Minister for Economy yesterday clarified why informal settlement residents were not eligible for Government’s First Home Buyer’s grant.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was responding to Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya during the 2020-2021 National Budget debate yesterday.

Ms Tabuya said it was contradictory that Government wanted to formalise informal settlements but could not give secured tenure to people.

She said since 2014, informal settlements had not been upgraded completely as there were still 80,000 people living in informal settlements who did not have access to the grant.

“The minister should admit that they don’t have the money to focus on Fijians in informal settlements,” Ms Tabuya said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the grant could not be used on informal settlements because it was taxpayers’ funds aimed at home ownership.

“When you fund people to build homes on informal settlements or Vaka Vanua arrangements they have no possessory rights,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“So today if I am paying a landowner $30 a month the next day the landowner can come and say move, everything I have there is gone.

“This is why Fiji National Provident Fund won’t allow you to withdraw your funds for housing eligibility to build on Vaka Vanua arrangements or informal settlements.”

However, he said Government had amended the law allowing members of landowning units to access their FNPF to build houses on mataqali land.

“If your objective is to increase the allocation to cover informal settlements then you are throwing good money down the drain because those people have no collateral.”

Minister for Housing Premila Kumar said: “I want to comment on the blatant lie Lynda Tabuya just made by saying there was no upgrading of informal settlements.

“That is a total lie because over the years five settlements have been completed,” she said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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