IN response to a letter last Thursday ‘NHC staffing queried’, this is what National Housing Corporation has to say:
- Current cash flow problems
The current cash flow problems have affected the ability of NHC to collect much-needed revenue from rentals, which have drastically impacted on its all-round operations, including delay in the timely payment of salaries.
NHC is not alone, nor immune to the current economic conditions that has greatly affected the user-pay for services rendered, most of all, the collection of revenue from rentals and sales.
Despite these difficult times, majority of officers fully appreciate the hardships faced by the corporation as self-sustaining entity of State.
The cash crunch can only be temporary, knowing full well that the situation can only improve soon with overall prudent management and improvement of the country’s economy.
Tenants’ reluctance to pay their rental arrears also adds to NHC’s current financial woes, but this inherent and stubborn attitude is now being addressed head-on by way of a ministerial-initiated major recovery exercise to recoup revenue and assets.
A submission to that effect for endorsement and funding is now before Cabinet.
NHC is owed substantial amount of monies in millions of kina from outstanding rental arrears that otherwise would have put NHC in a much-healthier financial position.
- Reemployment of a retrenched officer
A retrenched officer from five years ago was reemployed as a consultant purposely to oversee immediate progress of the much talked about but stagnated Durand Farm Public Housing Project.
NHC has a vacuum in the system for such a qualified professional that urgently demands his experience and qualification. He is a highly-skilled engineer specialising in housing projects and construction.
The engineer was previously engaged as a consultant, but due to the current cash crunch, and the urgency of the Durand Farm Project to get off the ground, the management opted to reemploy the engineer as a new employee – which is a less costly option than a consultant.
- Overemployment and new recruitment
The current job placement was implemented under the 2016 Department of Personnel Management-approved structure and is still in progress.
Aging staff made redundant in the 2010/11 redundancy program are still employed due to the lack of liquidity to settle their exit entitlements.
NHC has a graduate programme which was initiated in 2013/14 for new university graduates to gradually replace the aging workforce. NHC also has industrial training for institutions engaged for up skilling. As a good corporate citizen, youths from the Urban Youth Programme are also being considered and taken in as casuals for job experience and up-skilling and eventual permanent employment, or otherwise, pending assessment of their performance.
These are all management decisions to provide minimum level of employment opportunity as a corporate citizen for less-skilled workforce, and at the same time address NHC’s ageing workforce with qualified and skilled manpower to be on par with the rapidly-evolving and demanding nature of the business and corporate environment.
In hindsight, NHC is trying every effort to minimise the workforce but at the same time, it has to grapple with replacing the old guard with new graduates.
Funding availability to exit some of the aging officers with over 30 plus years of service remains a challenge.
Reemploying from scratch a retrenched but highly-qualified engineer is purely based on cost-cutting options, but ultimately, as the best way forward to respond to stakeholders’ demands and expectation to see the Durand Farm Housing Project progressed to construction stage after all the painstaking delay.
Kenneth B. Cooke
Acting Managing Director
National Housing Corporation