Budget Increase for Housing

Budget Increase for Housing

The Department of Housing has been allocated  $34.6 million in the National Budget 2017-2018. Of this amount, $1.8 million is for operating expenditure, $32.1 million for capital expenditure and $0.8 million towards Value Added Tax (VAT).

This new budgetary allocation is a considerable rise from the $25.3 million provided in the Fijian Government’s last fiscal year, with several factors accounted for the surge.

“The increase of $9.3 million in the Ministry’s 2017-2018 Budget is mainly attributed to a marginal increase in operating expenditure to fund one new driver and the regularization of three project positions, an increase in funding to Housing Authority (HA) and Public Rental Board (PRB) to increase the supply of housing lots and low-cost housing units and an increase in the level of assistance to Fijians living in squatter settlements, particularly through basic infrastructure and assistance with relocation,” the Government noted.

In addition to the HA and PRB, the Department of Housing works with NGOs and the Housing Assistance Relief Trust, which was also given a budgetary grant, to provide housing to low and middle-income earners in urban and peri-urban areas.

 

New initiatives include:

  • A provision of $7,389,169 to subsidise the land development cost of two new subdivisions by the HA at Nepani in Nasinu and Davuilevu, Nausori in the Central division. This development is expected to provide 476 housing lots by the end of 2018.
  • A new informal settlement relocation program targeting the relocation of 300 families has been given $1,310,000 and is due to be guided by the new Informal Settlement Relocation Compensation Policy.
  • A new partnership with the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) has been allocated $250,000 for strata-title home ownership, which the Government said would increase the stockpile of public rental housing via the private sector.
  •  Ongoing projects include town-wide informal settlement upgrades ($5,998,587), city-wide informal settlement upgrades ($436,000) and informal settlement upgrades ($2,774,000).

 

PRB provisions include:

  • An operating grant of $1,000,000 to subsidize the rental dues of its tenants around the country.
  • The completion of 36, single flats along Lautoka’s Kuata Street as part of the Simla Housing Development Project, which is expected to wrap up in 2018.
  • Thirty-six one-bedroom flats in Kalabu, Nasinu (in Fiji’s Central division) and 48 one and two-bedroom flats in Naqere, Savusavu (Northern division), to the tune of $2,347,761.
  •  The HART was granted $500,000 for the completion of four new flats in Makoi and the general maintenance of its existing 825 homes.

 

The First Home Owners Scheme has been given $10 million. The program provides $10,000 grants for Fijians earning up to $30,000 per annum and who are buying or building their first house, and has already been utilized by over 1000 recipients.

The Social Housing Policy has been allocated $500,000 to help HA clients settle their housing loans. This is for customers who have paid over 1.5 times the principal amount, retirees, or those who can prove genuine financial difficulty based on low-income or medical grounds. The Government and HA will share the write off on a 60:40 basis.

The Housing Assistance to Fire Victims scheme has been allotted $500,000 and is available to Fijians with a household income below $50,000 per annum and who have proper leases but lack insurance. This provision is to assist with rebuilding homes via grants of $5000.

A provision of $300,000 has been put towards a sustainable income-generating project that aims to control Fiji’s rural-urban drift. “The project is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development and the Department of Social Welfare,” Government noted. “The support to developing income-generating enterprises in five pilot areas (Vanuakula, Vunisinu, Nakoro, Nakama and Naboutini) will be completed in 2018.

The Government said this project feeds the formation and expansion of squatter settlement by supporting these income-generating activities in rural communities.

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