Housing a major worry

Main Stories, National

The National, Thursday February 20th, 2014

 HOUSING remains a major issue for employers and employees in the country, a survey has found.

Findings from the 2013 BHC and Hay Group Paynet Remuneration Survey were presented to members of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week by Concept Group managing director, Brendan Coombs. 

Coombs said the survey found that more than 50% of the 70 organisations questioned provided a housing allowance to their employees, 28% rented or provided accommodation, 14% provided nothing and 7% (including Government) offered home ownership.

“To me, one of the most effective ways of keeping your employees engaged with you is if you’re able to help them with their housing because people will move because of housing (rather) than get another 5,000 bucks,” he said.

“The problem is that housing is very problematic. Providing home ownership schemes is fraught with getting the money in the first place.

“The other issue I find is that there’s not a history of home ownership in Papua New Guinea so if people move from a company house to their own house, they still think someone else is going to look after it for them.

“They still forget to pay the rates and all those sorts of things so it becomes an issue.

“There’s a whole psyche change that has to happen around home ownership before it can be taken up.

“But really, for the amount of money we’re spending on housing allowance for an employee or what it’s costing us to rent accommodation, it’s much better that that money goes into the employees’ pocket so they have an asset at the end of their working life.”

Coombs said government institutional housing, particularly for disciplined forces such as police and army, had so many problems.

“What we find with institutional housing, particularly with government, is that people don’t move out,” he said.

“Long after they’ve retired, they’re still taking up someone’s house because there’s been no progress made in getting them to have their own accommodation.

“So there’s no room for the people who actually work in institutional housing right across PNG. They find it very difficult to find housing.”

Housing and Urbanisation Minister Paul Isikiel said last September the Government had approved K150 million for the National Housing Corporation’s public investment programme to start this year.