Building codes need to be enforced to ensure people are actually using treated timber. This was noted in Parliament by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. He was responding to an Opposition question on the monitoring and control of Asian Subterranean termites in declared emergency areas such as Lautoka and Labasa.
The AG said entire homes had been built with untreated timber and that measures need to be taken instead of just relying on the Bio Security Authority (BAF).
Attacks on buildings and homes have been more prevalent than infestations in vegetable gardens.
“The whole idea is to mitigate the risk further, as opposed to complete eradication- that would be extremely difficult.”
He confirmed that BAF has been carrying out random checks around and at exit points of certain areas declared to be high risk, and could also prevent the dismantling of timber structures from homes in affected areas.
Also noted in Parliament was that over $30 million has been spent by the Government on the Home-CARE initiative for more than 25,000 households, $17.23 million on Farms-CARE and over $1 million on social welfare recipients, for those impacted by Tropical Cyclones Keni and Josie. More than $9 million has been spent on E-Transport CARE.
The CARE initiative was announced last month to fund the repair and replacement of those affected by the tropical cyclones and covers homes, farms and transport financing.
The AG noted that while there was no allocation in the 2017-2018 National Budget estimates for the CARE Initiative, there were contingency funds set aside in budgetary allocations for such a case.
He said that while the funding was not approximately to the tune of $58 million, (which the Government has already spent) in such cases, they’d redeployed funds from ministries and other sources of governmental expenditure.
When asked by the Opposition on what assurance there was that these funds would be directed towards people genuinely affected by April’s natural disasters, Sayed-Khaiyum said they were managing these issues, with the help of their audit teams.
“There are people, of course, who are dishonestly trying to obtain funds. It’s a fact – like during (Tropical Cyclone) Winston, and some people have been charged. “
He added that people had also attempted to change the residential address noted on their Voter Identification Cards to be qualified into areas registered as cyclone-affected, adding that it was necessary for applications to be genuine and verified.
Government has deployed teams into the field for random checks on applications, while applicants have also been required to sign declarations and can be charged if found to falsely make claims on their need for funding from the CARE initiative.