Call to enforce national building code

A LOCALLY-OWNED insurance service provider has called on the government to better enforce and monitor the building codes that are in place to ensure quality houses are built.

Sun Insurance Company Ltd chief executive officer Lolesh Sharma made the comment in his presentation on the insurance sector’s 2015 annual report to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs yesterday.

Mr Sharma said Fiji had a premium pool of $160 million and Tropical Cyclone Winston cost the industry $115m, which wiped out about 85 per cent of the premium pool.

He said the insurance industry in Fiji was very vulnerable to such natural disasters with one of the biggest challenges being the constant threat of cyclones.

According to Mr Sharma, the flooding in Nadi in 2009 wiped out about $15m from the premium pool of the insurance industry.

He said if the national building code was enforced houses in the country would be built to the standard.

The issue of substandard building materials that were being imported by some companies was also brought up.

Committee chairperson and Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment Lorna Eden said a committee was set up after Severe TC Winston to look at the building code and the building materials that were being brought into the country.

Ms Eden said recently tests were also done to check the strength of bricks that were being manufactured in the country.

Meanwhile, concern was also expressed by the insurance company on the low percentage of people who were insured.

Mr Sharma said the insurance penetration for Fiji was just about 10 per cent, but they were working on encouraging more people to insure their homes.

Committee member Vijay Nath asked if the company was taking any steps to ensure more people take up insurance cover.

“We are advertising proactively on local television and we believe it’s important to raise awareness to the people on the importance and benefit of insurance,” Mr Sharma said.

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