Second Batch of Housing Assistance to be Announced

Oct. 3, 2017, 6:27 a.m.

Levuka after TC Winston

GOVERNMENT will soon release the second batch of the Help for Home initiative as announced in the 2016/2017 National Budget.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation , Rosy Akbar will be going out with her team in two weeks’ time.

The second batch will cost Government about $20 million.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the priority areas would be those that were in the red zone.

About 24,000 to 25,000 people, he said, have so far been assisted by this Government’s initiative.

While it was allocated $80m in the 2016/2017 National Budget, he said extra $8m was added to the first batch.

This means a total of $88m was spent on the first batch of this intiative.

For the second batch, he said, they would add another $20m.

“There also another group of people who have built their homes but they had apply for refunds, with stringent requirements. All has been verified their receipts,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“There are some people who are trying to sneak in higher amounts when they were not eligible for that. So that has been given out or reimbursed.”

He said the Ministry of Economy has been keeping a constant update of the percentage of people who have been supplied and places that have been delivered.

“We also make sure that we have enough stocks to supply to maritime and the rural areas too.”

He said the focus would be on maritime areas because they were remote to get their supplies.

He earlier stated that there is a shortage of three key components of the construction industry.

This includes concrete blocks, roofing iron and timber.

As the result, he said, there were only partial deliveries of building materials under the Government’s Help for Homes initiative.

“Our team at the Ministry of Economy is constantly liaising with hardware companies and getting updates on the percentage of deliveries.”

The A-G said the hardware companies that provided concrete blocks, roofing iron and timber had issues with delivery primarily because of the lack of supply.

“In the Fijian market, there is also the lack of timber.

“A lot of companies source timber from New Zealand and New Zealand is also unable to keep up with the demand that it has.”

The Help for Homes initiative is Government’s initiative to provide assistance to people whose homes had been damaged by Severe TC Winston in February, especially those from low-income families.

“So $88 million worth of M-PAiSA cards were given, which requires them to redeem those cards in hardware stores,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The Attorney-General said hardware stores had been selected through processes that had been advertised.

This article first appeared in The Fiji Times on September 6, 2016.