Editorial comment: Making home ownership affordable

Home ownership obviously holds an important part in the plans of some of our registered political parties in the lead up to the 2018 elections.
They talk about the need to make owning a home affordable for Fijians. As we head into the 2018 General Election, we asked the six registered political parties their views on housing in Fiji. What did they think about the issue of home ownership for Fijians? What were their plans to make it affordable?
The National Federation Party, Unity Fiji, Fiji Labour Party and the Fiji United Freedom Party responded to the questions.

The FijiFirst party and the Social Democratic Liberal Party did not respond to questions when this edition went to press yesterday. NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad claimed it was beyond the reach of low and middle income earners or families to afford a decent home. Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube said while every Fijian couple dreamt of having a decent home, it was shattered as the cost to own a home was out of reach for a working couple. FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry believes the lack of affordable housing for low income families was one of Fiji’s most serious social problems. He insists little had been done in the past 10 years to address this social issue.

He claimed the country was facing a serious shortage of housing for all levels of society. FUFP leader Jagath Karunaratne said the party’s housing scheme would be based on the concept of a family or vanua and its values. The vanua, he said, was based on consensus, respect, acceptance, generosity, accommodativeness, share, care and living in harmony. Clearly housing, and how affordable and available it is, will be an issue that carries a lot of weight. Squatter settlements have been thrown into the mix. ‘

The parties obviously believe this housing issue is very close to the hearts and minds of thousands of people in Fiji. They want a home they can call their own. The different views are interesting. Different people, as we have always said, will see things differently when it comes to issues of importance to Fijians. With this series, we hope to stimulate discussion with the views of the parties, and aid in creating awareness of what each has to offer in the lead up to the elections this year. The parties may differ in their plans to address critical issues. This series is about being engaged and aware of the various scenarios that are out there.

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