MINISTRY RESPONDS TO UNION STATEMENT
Monday 29 June 2020 –The Ministry of Housing and Community Development in response to a statement issued by the Fiji Bank and Finance Sector Employees Union express its disappointment on the Union’s comment that the statement made by the Minister, Hon. Premila Kumar, was “totally irresponsible” and would like to therefore clarify some details mentioned.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Housing and Community Development, Mr. Sanjeeva Perera said that the Ministry has been receiving numerous complaints from applicants on the allocation of lots by Housing Authority of Fiji.
“Interestingly, the most common question raised by these low/middle income earning applicants is how could some of the successful Housing Authority applicants managed to build such expensive houses if they were really low income earners,” said Mr Perera.
He added that this has been one area of research undertaken by the Ministry as part of its policy review process, specially the eligibility of the recipients on the lots requested, within certain development areas of the Authority.
The findings from these research work and other available facts raise clear doubts on the eligibility of some of the lot recipients to receive heavily subsidized land lots and thereby, the level of transparency of the lot allotment process used by the Authority. Therefore, the Hon Minister’s statement is well supported by these findings and observations.
“The Union on the other hand needs not to go far, but simply read and hear what members of the public are expressing on corruption practices at Housing Authority, especially applicants who had applied for the lots and hoped that one day, they too would own their very own homes,” said the Permanent Secretary.
Mr Perera also clarified that it is not the current lot allotment policy which allows sale of limited number of high end lots which is being questioned by the Hon. Minister, but the system used to pick successful applicants.
“This system lacks transparency in selecting the successful applicants when large numbers of applicants who meet the basic criteria apply. This obviously leaves room then for those staff who intend to manipulate the decisions made, for their personal gains to abuse the system.”
“We have been trying to understand the mechanism used by the Authority’s Lot Allotment system in picking the successful applications, but unfortunately, have not received a satisfactory explanation to date. When the users of a system do not understand or cannot explain it, that leaves room for manipulation,” said Mr Perera.
The Permanent Secretary also added that the Ministry has also noted that all other issues raised by the Union in their statement are operational matters, which are for the Board of Directors to address through the Chief Executive Officer.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Sanjeeva Perera
Ministry of Housing and Community Development
Tel: 3304 364