Housing problem

FIJI has a huge housing problem, said Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while speaking at the 2016-2017 Western Division Budget Consultation Forum in Lautoka yesterday.

He said this iwa why Government announced in the last budget that incentives would be provided for the private sector.

“If you simply rely on the public sector to provide the level of housing that we require it will take a longer period of time,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“We have to borrow money to do that but if you get the private sector involved and if you provide the right incentives and perhaps packages then obviously they will invest their money and we will be able to resolve our squatter problem a lot more quickly,” he said.

He said Government was also focused on increasing home ownership for ordinary citizens.

“The second argument of course is that we need to increase the rate of home ownership because it increases savings in the country. Singapore has a home ownership rate of 93 per cent.

“We are nowhere close to that.

“We need to look at affordable housing. Affordable housing in the Fijian context is low-cost housing.

“By increasing home ownership, you are giving people a sense of dignity that they actually own a property.”

He said mainstream banks should also assist Government in its initiative to increase home ownership for Fijians.

“Mainstream banks in Fiji are very conservative. They shouldn’t be conservative.

“We had a few discussions just a few days ago with the Reserve Bank of Fiji governor and the deputy governor and their team as to how we can make available cheaper money for people who are going to buy or build their first homes.

“The interest rates needs to be much lower.”

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