Housing should be condition for employment

National, Normal

HOUSING should be made a condition of employment that may force the National Government and private sector to work towards addressing the acute housing shortage of the country, National Planning and Monitoring Minister Paul Tiensten said yesterday.
Mr Tiensten has the backing of Public Employees Association president Michael Malabag that housing be made a condition of employment or increase the fortnightly housing allowance for public servants.
Currently, there was no concrete housing policy in place to address the rising housing woes that was forcing public servants to live in settlements, he said.
He also was critical of the Nasfund and Nambawan Super which he accused of putting commercial interest ahead of the members’ interest in not providing affordable housing.
Mr Tiensten spoke at the ground breaking of a joint-home ownership scheme between the Department of National Planning and Monitoring and the National Broadcasting Corporation at 5-Mile.
“Today is a historical moment for two Government departments trying to address the housing problem that affects morale and productivity in the workplace,” he said.
Mr Tiensten said most public servants lived in settlements which they were not supposed to but still gave 100% to their work.
“As Government, we must find solutions to address the acute housing shortage for our public servants and private sector workers.
“The Government must have a housing policy and with the private-public partnership (PPP) policy in place to holistically address the housing issues,” he said.
Mr Tiensten said as a former public servant working with the Petroleum Department, he had to sleep in the car and office to work while the Government ignored the plight of public servants.
“The Government should tackle the issue head on by putting in place a housing policy.
“At the moment there is no policy and no clarity on how we can address this together with the private sector,” he said.
Mr Tiensten said the arrangement between the National Planning and NBC was a piece-meal arrangement and urged the Government and private sector to work together to finding solutions to the housing needs of the people.
“Nasfund and Nambawan Super are building houses that our people simply cannot afford.
“There should be affordable housing schemes put in place,” he said.
“Nasfund and Nambawan Super should not look at commercial gains but the welfare of its members.”
Mr Tiensten said although he had seen a couple of draft housing policy, the Government should not shy away from this.
He said no-one had really taken ownership over the housing issue and he urged the National Housing Corporation to make it a priority in putting together a national housing policy for Papua New Guinea.
“We need a clear policy that is articulated well to address housing, not just for public servants, but the country as a whole.
“Housing should be made a condition of employment in that way it will force the Government and the private sector to work together towards addressing the housing issues in the country,” Mr Tiensten said.
PEA and PNG Trade Union Congress president Mr Malabag said the prices of Nasfund and Nambawan Super housing estates at 8-Mile and 9-Mile range from K240,000 to K400 000, which the public servants and ordinary workers simply could not afford.