Government First Home Ownership Initiative Assists 334 Fijian Households
Friday 19 February 2021 – During the 2020-2021 financial year, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development’s First Home Ownership Initiative assisted 334 applicants through the First Home and First Land Grant Programs. The total payout is in excess of $5 million.
The first home ownership initiative was introduced in 2014 with an aim to provide affordable and quality housing for Fijians with low and middle income category. Since the inception of the First Home Ownership programme in 2014, the Ministry has assisted a total of 2,978 Fijian households with a total payout in excess of $28.6 million.
The Minister for Housing and Community Development Hon. Premila Kumar said that the intention of increasing the grant amount for First Home Ownership Initiative in this year’s budget was to revive the construction sector and it is seen that many Fijians have benefited from this.
“Government made a huge commitment by increasing the grant amount for construction from $15,000 to $30,000 in this financial year for those earning annual household income of $50,000 and below. The idea was to assist them to use this grant as a deposit to borrow funds to build their dream homes despite the current challenging economic conditions. A total of 222 households in the income category of $50,000 and below have received assistance in construction or purchase of their first home under this program.” said Hon Kumar.
The Minister also said that the assistance provided under this program helped these applicants to secure loans from the financial institutions in excess of $42 million, creating opportunities for economic activities of such magnitude.
“The real benefit to the economy from this program is much bigger than the actual grant payout, in fact it is almost ten folds. It is also important to note that this program creates employment both, in construction sector and within the supply chain. In summary, the program will indirectly reach out to a large number of Fijians who will benefit from these activities,” Hon Kumar stated.
The Minister further advised that the funding allocated for the First Home Grant Assistance Program for the current financial year is now fully paid out and the pending applications will be considered in the next financial year, subject to the budget allocations then.
“We have written to all financial institutions and as we did in the previous years, any applicant who has missed out will be considered in the new financial year. We assisted 94 applicants who missed out in 2019-2020 financial year with the grant assistance in 2020-2021,” said Hon. Kumar.
A total of 182 applicants received grant to construct their first homes, 112 applicants to purchase their first homes and 40 applicants to purchase their first land. The First Land program is still open for applications.
The Minister also said that the Ministry will be doing regular follow ups with the respective financial institutions to ensure that the recipients of the grant are progressing with the construction of their first homes as per schedules.
The financial institutions were informed to return the grant money to the Ministry in the event the recipients’ decide to postpone the construct their house or they decide to shelve the project. We will use such refunds to assist those who are in the waitlist.
In 2019/2020, grant assistance for sum of $130,000 to assist 15 applicants, were refunded and utilized to assist applicants on the waiting list. We are kindly encouraging all grant recipients to use this assistance or they will lose it,” stated Hon. Kumar.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Sanjeeva Perera
Ministry of Housing and Community Development