PM Bainimarama with A-G Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the signing.
The Ministry of Housing and the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that paves the way for home ownership in four informal settlements around the country.
The MOU allows the Ministry of Housing to obtain 5-year development leases for four squatter settlements in Viti Levu: Wakanisila in Kalabu, Qauia and Nadonumai in Lami and Waidamudamu in Koronivia.
The rental and premium charged by TLTB for the development leases will be fair and equitable for the benefit of the members of the landowning units.
During the term of the leases, a range of upgrading works will be carried out in the settlements, including road upgrades, drainage and sewerage installation, provision of water and electricity and the erection of fire hydrants.
At the end of the development period, individual 99-year residential leases will be issued to the families living in the settlements, giving them the ability to build proper homes and to gain access to funds for this purpose, including from their FNPF accounts.
The Prime Minister and Chairman of the TLTB, Voreqe Bainimarama, said that this was a groundbreaking partnership between the TLTB and the Ministry of Housing that will improve the lives of thousands of Fijians living in these informal settlements.
The Prime Minister explained that this is the first time that any such development work will be conducted on iTaukei land – in partnership with Government.
“We have come up with a solution for squatter development on iTaukei land that fulfills my Government’s commitment to providing quality, affordable housing for all of our people,” he said.
“It is a win-win situation that will benefit both the landowners and the new tenants.”
The Attorney-General and Acting Minister for Housing, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the MOU underscored the Bainimarama Government’s key objective of providing affordable housing and land lots to those who do not have access to residential land.
“Government is very proud of this initiative, because it gives families living in these communities dignity and stability and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their children,” he said.
The Minister said that this approach provides a long-term solution, not a band-aid fix, and demonstrates the Bainimarama Government’s commitment to forging productive partnerships to develop a holistic approach to housing.
“By providing tenants with leases, they will be able to build proper homes and access funds through the FNPF, mainstream financial institutions and Government grants,” he said.
The Minister explained that the right to adequate and accessible housing is enshrined in the Fijian Constitution and that the Bainimarama Government takes its commitment in this regard very seriously.
He pointed out that this MOU was the latest development in a string of innovative measures aimed at providing more decent and affordable homes.
“These include the Participatory Squatter Upgrading Projects; providing more land for housing development through the Land Bank; encouraging commercial banks and financial institutions to facilitate low-interest home loans; tax refunds for new homeowners to build their homes; price controls on building and construction material; enlarging the groups FNPF can facilitate funding to in order to build or buy a new home; and a new $10-million housing grant for first time home owners,” he said.