AS an observer and from my personal research on the National Housing Corporation (NHC), I have realised that it is crippled administratively nationwide.
The current issues and problems afflicting NHC are the manifestation of the previous management.
The lack of incentives and initiatives of simply reviving the day to day functions of the organisation have contributed to NHC’s ineffectiveness today.
Many NHC management and government regimes have come and go claiming to clean up NHC and to restore its integrity but all have failed.
It doesn’t matter which Government regime or which NHC board or management is leading.
It is about realising the real accumulated issues and problems that should have been dealt with a long time ago internally and administratively.
Some problems faced administratively daily are visual to the naked eye when spending an hour or two at the NHC headquarters in Tokarara, Port Moresby.
Therefore, I believe NHC needs to be settled in administratively, meaning the minister responsible, the NHC board and management should address its in-house administrative issues as a priority before delivering effectively in terms of housing to the people of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
There are basically 13 fundamental overdue issues and problems the NHC have been failing to address administratively.
- Delay of staff fortnights;
NHC staff wait for a month or two to get one pay packet for the two to three fortnights missed. When employees are not paid on time or are underpaid, this affects the human resource to perform delegated tasks and duties.
NHC staff are like any other citizens living in towns and cities. When staff are not paid on time, they could be easily lured into bribery and other corrupt practices.
- No running water for staff flats and client houses;
Over the past 10 to 15 years, the NHC staff flats and client houses in NCD have been without running water. The NHC under its Tenancy Agreement Contract with its staff and clients living in its properties have failed miserably in upholding its Tenancy Agreement Contract over the years by not providing running water to its tenants as the principal owner of its properties.
- No maintenance on NHC properties nationwide;
Most NHC properties are old and run down. This is not entirely the NHC managements fault, it is because of the low rental fees charged on clients renting NHC properties. This makes it difficult for NHC to generate profit, maintain its properties and simultaneously pay for its utilities from service providers such as Eda Ranu and others.
- Selling of properties;
The selling of NHC properties yearly has an effect on its asset capacity and a negative impact in the future on its purpose for providing housing to the people of Papua New Guinea. Moreover, selling of properties has become a trend or a norm for NHC to pay its employees, settle bills from service providers, paying claims and benefits with entitlements from both current employees and retired employees. If this continues, sooner or later the Government and the people of PNG will realise that NHC will be left with no properties to manage.
East Sepik is the most affected, likewise other centres, from the sale of properties. NHC does not have an office in Wewak because its office was sold or rented out, the staff were left with no office to operate up to now.
- Communication barrier of all NHC branches with NHC headquarters in Port Moresby;
For years, telephone lines in all NHC branches and its headquarters in Port Moresby have been cut due to non-payment of telephone bills to Telekom PNG. Thus this being the result of no communication internally or externally with branches outside.
- No proper data and record system;
The organisation’s server is outdated for years. Employees still keep records on paper filed in boxes. The entire organisation is operating manually. The entire organisation is functioning manually with records being kept on papers piled in boxes. This makes it easier for employees to create falsify and duplicate documents and eradicate records, in doing so, making NHC a conducive agency for corruption.
- No proper workstations for employees and shortage of office supplies;
NHC employees do not have office stationery supplies to execute day to day functions of the organisation.
The office chairs and tables for staff are inadequate to cater for the work force. Office printers, photocopy machines and fax phone machines are all run down.
- Overcrowding at NHC headquarters;
The NHC headquarters is made up of two types of staff. One is a working group in which they have designated duties and working space to carry out the office duties.
The other group is made up of staff from provinces and staff that have being recalled from suspension and staff that are on the retrenched list waiting to be retrenched.
All these employee are on the payroll but are stagnant from executing any duties. Because all of them are unattached staff with no clear delegated tasks and duties to perform and have no workstation to execute daily functions of the office.
- No digital or technology system;
The entire staff of the organisation does not have a government working email address because its server is outdated and has never been used for years. In addition, there is inadequate laptops and computers for staff to work and store information, except for some executive level staff only.
Employees operate manually on pen and paper then walk from office to office to deliver letters and memos.
- Run-down back-up generator for electricity at NHC headquarters.
The back-up generator for powering the office is not working. In doing so, when blackouts the staff laze around the office vicinity or leave the office at will.
- Non-payments to Eda Ranu PNG and PNG Power for services over the years;
Due to non-payment of water and electricity bills to service providers the office is often out of electricity and water.
- Non-contribution of staff salary deductions to Nambawan Super Ld;
NHC has stopped contributing their employee’s salary deduction to Nambawan Super Ltd since 2007. It is stated on their pay slips that deductions have been made to Nambawan Super Ltd.
- Financial inadequacy in paying staff benefits and entitlements;
Retired, laid off, employees who resigned and those on its retrenchment list are still waiting to be retrenched by NHC and to be paid their dues. Unfortunately, some employees and ex-employees are now deceased and their families await final entitlements owed to them by NHC.
To conclude on my findings and opinion, I strongly believe the 13 fundamental issues pointed out are the main hindrance behind the NHC for not progressing administratively over the years, causing the work force of NHC to be weak in executing their duties and responsibilities effectively. Therefore, I urge the Government through the Housing and Urban Development minister Justin Tkatchenko, the NHC board and management to seriously work together in addressing those issues.
Furthermore, I believe many government agencies, institutions and departments are facing and suffering from similar administrative issues and problems.
The PNG’s Workers Union and the PNG’s Public Employees Association are ineffective and are watching with lips zipped while witnessing the breaking down and struggle of the NHC. In doing so, I urge the Marape/Steven government to fix this organisation as soon as possible or repeal the NHC Act of 1990 and disband NHC. Alternatively, privatise the NHC under the already established National Housing Estate Ltd (NHEL) as a State-Owned Enterprise Organisation.
The housing industry is a sleeping profiteering entity of the state.
It can generate and contribute millions to the country’s economy. But due to poor management over the years, NHC is now crippled.
I write on behalf of the silent majority of the NHC staff nationwide for redemption and intervention by the Government.
Michael Trawanga, Jr,