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Posts Tagged ‘NHC’

National Housing Corporation – Another property sold off under irregular circumstances

April 22, 2017 2 comments

Late last year, residents of the Tokara NHC Hostel lost their court action against the National Housing Corporation (NHC), and Aees Real Estate Limited. Evicted residents claimed they had been wrongfully removed from the property. It was also claimed that the sale to Aees Real Estate was illegal. 

Justice Hartshorn, a judge known for being unsympathetic to the ‘little’ people, dismissed the proceedings with costs. He argued residents had failed to pursue the case through correct legal procedure.

The short judgement does not disclose the sale price of the NHC property to Aees Real Estate Limited.

However, this sale needs urgent review.

It can be revealed Aees Real Estate Limited’s largest shareholder and Director is Anthony Waira.

Up until the 2007, Waira was the principal legal officer at the National Housing Corporation.

Given that the Public Accounts Committee has found that many NHC properties are being sold off, under value, to private developers, with the proceeds being laundered and stolen – there is a need for vigilance with all NHC transactions.

This is especially the case when the purchaser is the former legal counsel for the NHC.

O’Neill’s housing amnesia strikes again

September 5, 2016 1 comment

nhc

The Prime Minister has recently called for an investigation into the National Housing Corporation, owing to allegations of misconduct and mismanagement. 

It must be asked, why? The NHC has already been investigated, numerous times. On each occasion it was found to be systemically corrupt.  

No serious reform has been implemented of the NHC. A report by the the National Research Institute explains why:

‘Political leaders, bureaucrats and their associates … have plundered that [NHC] organization of its assets and resources. It has been used as a cash cow for politicians, cronies and officials over the years at the expense of ordinary Papua New Guineans where their rights to affordable shelter have been abused through such dealings’.

Actually worse than simply failing to reform the NHC, the O’Neill government has set up an even more pernicious, alternative housing body. In response to NHC mismanagement in 2012 the government transfered all the corporation’s properties to a shadowy new organisation, the National Housing Estate Limited.

In December 2012 the Post-Courier reported:

‘NHEL has acquired more than 50 prime properties formerly owned by NHC in Port Moresby alone and will purchase 500 more throughout the country with more acquisitions to follow in the New Year’.

The paper added:

‘the Government has earmarked K200 million from the K6 billion from the Exim Bank of China for NHEL to purchase existing NHC properties in Port Moresby and other provincial centres’.  

Has this improved the situation? Nope. 

Related content: Gross mismanagement of Papua New Guinea’s public housing stock continues

NHEL is in effect a private company, albeit with Ministerial shareholders, which steadfastly refuses to open its books to the Auditor General’s Office, assuming any are kept.

Second from left, NHEL CEO Kevin Ahipum and senior managers with his top management.

Second from left, NHEL CEO Kevin Ahipum and senior managers refuse to open their books for auditing or comply with IPA reporting requirements

Nor will it open up its books to the Investment Promotion Authority, as required under law. The last annual return submitted by NHEL to the Investment Promotion Authority covered 2009. Nothing has been submitted since. This is a violation of the Companies Act 1997.

If the O’Neill government’s plan to tackle NHC corruption in 2012, was to transfer its assets to an opaque, obstinate corporate vehicle, one can only shudder to think what its next plan will consist of…

Juffa criticizes Housing Corporation

November 7, 2013 3 comments

EMTV

Oro Governor, Gary Juffa has criticized the National Housing Corporation for eviction people without having alternate plans.

Governor Juffa said NHC has a record of carrying out evictions and then selling properties to foreign entities.

 

His criticisms come after the business arm of NHC, National Housing Estate Limited issued a warning to tenants of 5-mile, 3-mile and Saraga in the nation’s capital.

Making reference to the North Waigani Hostel eviction earlier this year, Governor Juffa accused the government for neglecting its people.

He said NHC, is a government institution that’s supposed to serve the interest of its people.

His view on the seven days’ notice issued to tenants in three NHC properties in NCD is that the government is unfair on Papua New Guineans.

The Governor made an appeal to the Housing Minister and NHE management to refrain from issuing eviction notices if they do not have a plan to address the ongoing housing problems.

He questioned why properties were sold to foreign entities and if the government was doing its duty in serving the interest of the people.

A former public servant, Governor Juffa is aware of the high rate of housing rentals in the city and the hardships faced by public servants in trying to find a roof over their head.

The state is preying on public servants who built PNG – They need our support!

November 6, 2013 15 comments

Dr Kristian Lasslett*

There is nothing worse than to meet a community, enjoy their hospitality, and then feel absolutely powerless as they are predated upon by some of the most venal and corrupt state institutions.

At the moment in Papua New Guinea hardworking public servants, many of who have devoted their life to service of country and community, are being tossed out of their homes and into the street by the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and their business arm the National Housing Estate Limited (NHEL).

Earlier this year I had the great privilege of meeting residents from the NHC flats in North Waigani. In February they were chased out of the place many had called home since 1997 by criminal gangs recruited by the NHC – K30,000 was released by the government for the thuggery. Those who resisted the eviction were bashed. So people wept and loaded what they could into cars and then set off into the heavy rain that pounded down that Saturday. The National Court later declared the eviction illegal.

This North Waigani resident was beaten by criminal gangs recruited by the government to evict residents.

This North Waigani resident was beaten by criminal gangs recruited by the government to evict residents.

A professional evaluation of the North Waigani property valued it at K40 million. The government sold it for K11 million. Why the state would sell a new, purpose built property when civil servants face a housing shortage is bizarre; why they would sell it at a massive discount is evidence in my view of something more malevolent.

Then last Monday it was revealed on EMTV that more civil servants are potentially facing forced evictions: “Tenants occupying 5-mile National Housing Corporation flat, 3-mile and Saraga, gathered yesterday to raise their concerns through the media. They have been given 7-days’ notice by the commercial arm of NHC, National Housing Estate Limited, to sign a new tenancy agreement, or vacate the property”.

I don’t know these particular communities, but I feel like I know them. I have sat around with numerous NHC residents facing forced evictions over the years, many are pioneers of this great country, its magistrates, its policy makers, its frontline staff, and they have many stories to tell – inspiring stories.

And yet lifelong public servants are being preyed upon by a rotten state institution. This is how the NHC was described by the Public Accounts Committee: “National Housing Corporation is a failed, insolvent and non performing entity – and has been for at least twenty years”. Citing Auditor General reporting, the Committee continues, the “controls and systems for the sale of properties has been abused for personal gain collaboration with outside interested parties”.

The NHC’s business arm, the NHEL, has a similarly chequered record. Indeed, its Executive Chairman John Dege – the current Acting head of the NHC –  watched on as North Waigani residents were brutally evicted.

NHC Managing Director John Dege at the North Waigani eviction.

NHC Managing Director John Dege, second from the left, at the North Waigani eviction.

As if this was not bad enough, soon after his appointment at NHEL Dege announced: “NHEL is…a major proponent in the Paga Hill housing development project undertaken by Paga Hill Development Company (PNG) Limited”. Some may recall, Paga Hill residents also endured a brutal forced eviction at the hands of the developer.

The developer, the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC) and its executives, have between them been censured in no less than six official reports into corruption and public mismanagement in Papua New Guinea.

For instance PHDC’s Chairman and Director ran a company, CCS Anvil. The Auditor General’s Office claims when working for the Public Curators Office Anvil withheld “a significant amount of monies it has received from the proceeds of the realisation of assets of deceased estates, including sale of properties, shares and investment and rent…The AGO can find no evidence that any money realised by Anvil on behalf of estates has been paid into the Estate Trust Account”.

With all this information on the public record, NHEL still went into business with PHDC.

I am doing everything I can to bring the struggle of residents to light at an international level –  writing, speaking with NGOs, lobbying for a visit from Special Rapporteur on Housing. But more is needed, so much more is needed.

Unless an international coalition can form to take on this important issue of housing and human rights – which affects us all – then the PNG state will continue to act with impunity.

* Dr Kristian Lasslett is a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Ulster and sits on the International State Crime Initiative’s Executive Board. He has been researching forced evictions in PNG since 2012.