29 March, 2018, 12:00 am
DURING the Department of Housing’s submissions to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the Office of the Auditor-General’s (OAG) audit of the 2016 Government Accounts, questions were raised on the non-utilisation of funds for the Lagilagi Housing Project.
The OAG had noted that $3.2 million allocated in the 2016 budget estimates were not utilised during the period. The OAG further noted that the department had made a request to the Ministry of Economy on May 27, 2016 and the ministry had replied on July 13 that the grant agreement had expired in December 2015.
Opposition PAC member Aseri Radrodro asked if the department was actually delivering on the intentions of the Lagilagi Housing Project which was to house the less fortunate and the squatters.
“Because we can still see squatters there; are you really delivering for the people; the less fortunate with affordable homes,” Mr Radrodro said.
Permanent secretary for Ministry of Housing Joshua Wycliffe said Lagilagi project was the start of this process.
“The root of coming to squat is seeking employment, so the department is working with other ministries to attack the root of the problem and not at the stage where they are already squatting. We attack the problem before they come out and squat,” he said.
Mr Wycliffe said Lagilagi was the start and we needed a few projects in the country to actually continue to take it forward.
The Department of Housing is responsible for providing access to adequate, quality and affordable accommodation for all citizens, especially the low income groups and the poor.
The PAC was chaired by Government MP Mohammed Dean with Opposition members Mr Radrodro and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu sitting in. The meeting also included reps from the OAG and Ministry of Economy.