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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a landmark agreement with the Fijian Government to bring in the private sector to help provide affordable and climate-resilient homes for low and middle-income families.
The move, which is in line with the government’s vision to provide affordable and decent housing for all communities by 2020, is aimed at supporting families who struggle to find housing due to rising land and home prices. Coupled with the government’s drive to harness the expertise of the private sector to deliver high-quality public services, Fijian citizens can look at improved services in the near future.
“We are steadily realising our vision to provide a new range of affordable, high-quality housing options for Fijian families in ways that make sense in our rapidly modernising economy. We’re re-imagining our housing sector; building a new housing market where more ordinary families can afford to own a home, own a strata title and rent properties at affordable rates,” said the Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
“We’ve already introduced a new level of funding support for first-time home buyers, we’ve restricted the influence of foreign buyers in our housing sector, relieved debt obligations, discounted interest rates for home loans, and, with a view to reduce construction expenses, we’ve undertaken an analysis of costing models, in partnership with the World Bank, to explore the introduction of new cost-saving technologies. On top of that, we’re harnessing the innovation and expertise of the private sector – and we will be working with local and foreign contractors – to build up a stockpile of new homes that can house more Fijian families. That agenda includes our new partnership with IFC, which has provided assistance to a number of affordable housing projects around the world, and has already partnered with the Fijian Government on our highly successful PPP to upgrade the Ba and Lautoka hospitals.”
The Fijian Government recently set up a new ministry – the Ministry of Housing and Community Development – to tackle the housing affordability issue and asked for IFC’s support. As an adviser, IFC, with support of the Australian Government, will work to design the right public-private partnership model to deliver affordable housing that’s also environmentally friendly and resilient to climate change. Homes under the project will use EDGE, a green building certification system created by IFC that helps cut energy and water usage, as well as building material costs.
“We know Fiji is vulnerable to natural disasters and the damage caused by cyclones in the past highlights the need for affordable housing which is both climate resilient and energy efficient,” said IFC’s Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Vivek Pathak. “A key reason for lack of affordable housing is access to land for development and the high cost of construction, so we will work to help the Fijian Government develop an affordable housing demonstration project, so Fiji can take a major step in ensuring people have quality housing they can afford.”
An analysis of housing affordability in Fiji has shown that lack of affordable housing and land packages has contributed to the growth of informal settlements around Nadi and Suva. It’s estimated that 14 percent of the Fijian population now live in informal settlements, with limited infrastructure and access to essential services such as water and electricity.
IFC will also assist in developing a housing finance product to help increase access to finance for low and middle-income families so people can look into home ownership, regardless of their income level.
IFC will draw on its global work in helping tackle housing affordability issues. For example, an IFC supported project in Odisha, India, is expected to build 2,600 affordable homes for about 12,000 people. Further support in the state of Bihar will result in a statewide network of green affordable housing projects across multiple cities that could create about 7000 housing units and mobilize about US$120 million in private sector investment.
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