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