Ongoing investigation reveals corrupt practices at Housing Authority
June 25, 2020 10:45 am
Minister for Housing, Premila Kumar
Within two years of taking the reign as Minister for Housing, Premila Kumar is admitting that there is a high level of corruption at the Housing Authority.
Speaking to FBC News, and not holding back, the Minister reveals she was approached by many and questioned about the lots allocated to people in Tacirua and Wainibuku, which were initially set aside for low income earners.
Kumar says amazingly some people had declared that their household income was $20,000 however they have built two-storey buildings in these areas.
The Housing Authority is now tightening the processes.
Kumar says legal action is now on the cards for some dishonest Fijians who declared false information to acquire Housing Authority lots.
“Who got this lots, what was their income, what their declared on the paper and so forth so my question to the Housing Authority team was that how did you decide who should get the lots and all this while I have been told that there is a system, you put in your application the system selects but I realized there is no system and the system does not select. So are investigating this matter, and once we have concluded the investigation those applicants who lied who were not honest their cases will be reported. We will take their matter to court”.
The Minister also says that some Housing Authority staff have been long involved in these corrupt practices.
“It is the individual staff who do the selection. Sometimes they give the lot to walk-in customers, rather than going through the list of applications they claim they have and than we have people who come to the office and say I have put in an application seven years ago now when we go back to the Housing Authority and say how come so and so got the lot and we not even considered and than they come to know that their application is not even at Housing Authority. So it is a clear indication that the staff are involved and they have been giving lots to people who they know and they tried not to change the policy to make it more transparent.”
Kumar says they have documented these findings and have cross-checked the information with Fiji Revenue and Customs Services and the Fiji National Provident Fund.
She says they are also going to titles office to find out if Fijians who have been allocated lots had other properties as one of the requirements for Housing Authority is for an individual to be a first homeowner.