The Times/Tebbutt Poll that shows housing has become less affordable there is high cost of rental is no surprise.
It is beyond the reach of low and middle-income earners or families to afford a decent home. This is resulting in ballooning of squatter settlements. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is increasing rural to urban migration because more and more of our people are losing interest in agriculture due to lack of incentives and look for greener pastures in urban areas.
There is a need to evaluate the regulatory framework (such as the Town Planning Act and Subdivision of Land Act) regarding urban development and how it impacts land subdivision costs and the price of land to build homes.
Infrastructure development like multi-lane roads and highways could open up land required for housing development. This can have impact of reducing pressure on house prices in Suva-Nausori corridor and also cater for rising demand through incentives such as reduction in time required to travel to and from work.
The NFP has recently announced that in Government it will construct two more lanes between Nadi and Lautoka making it a four-lane highway on that segment of the Queens Road.
Furthermore, we have also announced that in Government we will look at the feasibility of a Coastal Highway between Nausori and Suva.
These two developments will undoubtedly open up more land for housing once our people find land suitable for development has access to infrastructure.
NFP will also review the urban development legislation to provide those living in squatter settlements with state support for basic facilities such as roads, water supply, electricity and sanitation.
We will review legislation to provide proper land division and titles for squatter families. The current Approval to Lease notices or titles being given to residents of squatter settlements is not working.
Further, we will encourage indigenous landowners who wish develop their land for housing to do so and become property developers for this purpose rather than just being lessors. More details will be announced in our manifesto
The NFP will review the First Home Buyers Grant policy to assist low and middle-income families buy their first home.
Professor Biman Prasad
NFP’s Housing Policy
September 25, 2017
The Sugarcane Planting Programme being implemented by the Ministry of Sugar through the Fiji Sugar Corporation has been a miserable failure leading to the decline in sugarcane production for the 2017 harvesting and crushing season.
FSC Chief Executive Officer Graham Clark and Chairman Vishnu Mohan’s recent statement that the estimate for this season of 2.1 million tonnes has been revised downwards to 1.8 million tonnes due to the effects of the dry weather is misleading. We believe FSC’s bungling of both the estimates and the replanting programme will result in a further decline to the current projection by the Corporation when the total crop is crushed.
FSC must admit that it got its forecast of the total crop tonnage wrong in the first place. It boldly announced a pre-crush estimate of 2.1 million tonnes. But FSC failed to conduct what in normal field practice is known as out turn to estimates, that should have been done progressively since the start of the season. That is the accurate way to determine the exact tonnage of the crop.
More than 3 three months after the start of the crushing season when 70% of the crop has been harvested and crushed, FSC suddenly woke up and realised that the production has declined. This means that the FSC Executive and Senior Management were sleeping on the job.
The cane production is declining simply due to the failure of the replanting programme. Under the programme cane growers are compelled to look for their own funding mostly through loans to prepare land, purchase cane seeds and carry out planting. In most cases growers are refunded the expenses incurred 4 months after replanting.
This is preposterous. How does the Ministry of Sugar and FSC expect growers who are struggling to survive, have the ability to replant new crop?
The correct and common-sense approach would have been to implement the programme like a CRP – Crop Rehabilitation Programme, similar to what was done in 1998/99 by the then SVT Government through negotiation by then NFP parliamentary opposition following the prolonged 1998 drought that resulted in crop production increasing by 100 percent.
In 1998 the total crop production was 2.098 million tonnes. One year later following the implementation of CRP the total cane crushed was 3.958 million tonnes. A further 170,000 tonnes was left unharvested when the mills stopped crushing.
The Ministry for Sugar and FSC can learn from the highly successful implementation of the CRP 18 years ago and correct its failed replanting programme if they want crop production to increase in order for the industry to survive.
NFP GS – Cane planting programme a failure – Media Release Sept 2017 (1)