Fiji needs to increase its home ownership, for which an obstacle continues to be the conservative attitude of banks, says Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Speaking at a recent 2017 National Budget consultation in Lautoka, he said the country had a long way to go to find equal footing with countries like Singapore.
“What we need to increase is the rate of home ownership because it increases savings in the country,” he said.
“Singapore has a home ownership rate of around 93 percent. We are nowhere close to that. So we need to look at affordable housing. Affordable housing in the Fijian context – we always say, low cost housing. It has a number of connotations.”
He added that recent discussions with the Reserve Bank of Fiji cantered on ways to avail more money for first-time home builders and buyers.
“As you see, mainstream banks in Fiji are very conservative. Extremely conservative. We’ve had discussions with the RBF as to how we can make more money – cheaper money – available for people who are going to build or buy their first homes. Because the interest rate needs to be much lower.”
He also highlighted that more private-public partnerships were needed to address Fiji’s huge housing problem.
“This is why Government for the last Budget announcement talked about offering incentives to the private sector, because if you simply rely on the public sector to provide the level of housing that we require, it will take a long period of time.
“We have to borrow money to do that. But if you get the private sector involved and provide the right incentives and perhaps packages, then obviously they will invest and we get to resolve our squatter problem a lot more quickly.”