The National, Wednesday 20th February, 2013
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE eviction of National Housing Corporation tenants currently under way has been halted on the orders of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
O’Neill said during a press conference at his parliament office that he has directed the Housing and Urban Development Minister Paul Isikiel on Monday to freeze all sales of NHC assets and the forced evictions of the tenants.
He said he wanted the NHC to develop a long-term strategy for
public housing rather than forcing people out on the streets.
He also directed that the eviction of tenants at the Waigani Hostel in NCD and other assets in the country be halted pending the development of this strategy.
"I want the minister (Isikiel) to provide a brief on the exercise and the sale of the Waigani hostel when cabinet meets tomorrow," the prime minister said.
O’Neill said housing was his top priority and had launched a housing project while he was housing minister in the previous government.
The K31 million-project was not completed due to rising costs and other problems.
"The contractor was proposing a new price for each of the house built, but the state
did not agree to this so the project is dead with the full K31 million to be refunded," he said.
"The opposition has been jumping up and down about this project, but I can assure you that not a single toea will be lost here.
"There have been other housing schemes that have failed in the past with no money refunded, so I don’t know what the opposition is going on about."
In a letter to Isikiel, O’Neill commended the minister for initiating some processes to restore the assets of NHC but he said that must be part of a long-term strategy.
"The strategy should take into account institutional, financial and legislative structures," the letter said.
"The strategy should include a comprehensive audit of assets – houses, flats/units, hostels and land – which NHC owns nationwide."