By ISAAC NICHOLAS
THE Public Employees Association has raised concerns over the slow progress of the K38 million housing development package for public servants at 8-Mile outside of Port Moresby, The National reports.
PEA president Michael Malabag said after two years, only 10 houses had been built from the promised 200 houses per year.
Malabag, who is also the PNG Trade Union Congress president, stated in his correspondence with Department of Personnel Management (DPM) secretary John Kali, that since the government was advocating home ownership for public servants, the PEA must be more than convinced that this process would be transparent, affordable and within a specific period of time.
“I say this because when Peter O’Neill was Public Service Minister, he announced a housing development package of K38 million in partnership with Strongbond International to build 1,000 houses over five years or 200 houses per year,” he said.
“Two years, on only 10 houses have been built at 8-Mile and I have yet to sight the actual criteria, number of public servants who have applied.
“So naturally, I have a lot of reservation about the government role in this housing pro¬ject. I would appreciate some positive feedback from DPM otherwise, such housing projects will be very much questionable even with government subsidy of K80,000 per application.”
The PEA president said this in his letter responding to Kali after the salary fixation agreement signing on April 14 was aborted due to PEA’s opposition to the K500 one-off buy-out housing allowance instead of the K250 a fortnight claim by the union.
Kali had stated during the meeting that housing was not a condition of employment for public servants and that housing allowance was not a negotiable matter, and that the government would proceed with its decision to add K500 across the board to all salary scales.
“In regard to home ownership, I reconfirm that the government’s intention is to enable public servants at all levels to enter into home ownership through approved home ownership schemes as they are developed across the country.”
He said for this purpose, the government had approved home ownership allowances, which would be announced in due course.
Under the current housing agreement, the government would assist public servants with K80,000 to participate in a buy-back home ownership scheme with the remainder to be met by an individual through their superannuation savings.
Kali said 200 houses were being built at 8-Mile for public servants to apply and buy and more houses would be built under the scheme where Malabag had raised concerns on the snail’s pace of the scheme.