MINISTRY TO CONDUCT PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS
Saturday 21 November 2020 – The Ministry of Housing and Community Development (Ministry) will be carrying out public consultations on the new Informal Settlement Lot Allocation Policy that is being developed by the Ministry.
While addressing members of the media, the Minister for Housing and Community Development Hon. Premila Kumar stated that this change was long overdue and it is crucial to establish a fairer system to assist those who are in the lower income bracket.
“The Ministry is working on the upgrade and formalisation of several informal settlements and upon completion, ninety nine (99) year leases will be issued to settlers within the upgraded settlements. The policy that is currently applicable for the lot allocation is nineteen (19) years old and was approved in year 2001. The issues surrounding informal settlements have changed significantly since then and the efforts by some Fijians to manipulate the system are increasing every day. Hence, it is time to bring in new policies to solve current issues,” said Hon. Kumar.
The Minister added that some of the key areas that the new policy will address incudes: entitlement for lots, price of lots, Government subsidy levels and restrictions on sale of subsidized lots.
“Apart from being a Fijian citizen and above the age of eighteen, it is also a requirement that you consistently live in the settlement that is being upgraded, in order to apply for a lot. This will obviously exclude cases where people have built houses in informal settlements for rental purposes,” said the Minister.
Hon. Kumar further advised that the applicant should not own any property previously or at the time the application is made and the Ministry will carry out title searches to confirm this.
In explaining how much the recipients would have to pay, Hon. Kumar stated that the new policy recommends moving away from unimproved capital value (UCV) to Market Value (MV).
“Market value is a reflection of the true value of the upgraded lot and can be used by the lot recipients to secure funding against the lot. Being consistent with the Government’s vision to assist the low income earners, heavy subsidies are recommended under the new policy to the households in the lowest household income brackets, but the subsidy will reduce as the household income bracket increases.
“For example, those households earning below $10,000 a year will get ninety percent (90%) subsidy on the market value where as those earning $50,000 and above will have to pay the full market price if they wish to own the lot they are currently living in,” the Minister elaborated.
Hon. Kumar also advised that payment for these lots can be through bank loans or arrangements will be made with the Housing Authority of Fiji, to assist those having difficulty to reach out to commercial banks.
Under the new policy, restrictions will be placed to stop people from selling subsidized lots, by way of caveat.
“We understand that there may be genuine cases, for example migration, where the recipients will need to dispose their properties. In such instances, the lot recipient will have to seek the consent of the Ministry. The Ministry will ensure that the recipient refunds the total subsidy received from the sale proceeds,” Hon. Kumar said.
The Minister added that the draft policy has been discussed at Cabinet level and with the updates from the Public Consultation, the final policy is expected to be tabled for cabinet decision in January 2021.
“The Public Consultation will commence from 26 November and this will be held in the Central, Western and Northern divisions respectively. The draft policy is available on the Ministry website – www.housing.gov.fj and members of the public can also provide online feedback by just clicking the icon for Feedback on the Home Page on the website.
The documents are mostly in the English language, but those who wish to participate in other languages can also access the iTaukei or Hindi version of the questionnaire on our website as well,” said Hon. Kumar.
“We will soon be starting consultations on the review of the National Housing Policy, which is a much broader exercise that will lead towards establishing laws much needed for the housing sector. So I encourage members of the public to participate in these consultations and share your views on how we can improve the policies and laws in the housing sector,” said Hon. Kumar.
The Public Consultation schedule is available on the Ministry website and Facebook page and will be advertised in the media on a regular basis.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Sanjeeva Perera
Ministry of Housing and Community Development