Public service

Public Service Rental Program – Solomon Times Online

The decision by the Ministry of Civil Service to continue with the current Civil Service Hire Program is acknowledged.

It was announced in 2021 that a new policy has been adopted by Cabinet to allow all rentals to be paid directly into officers’ bank accounts. The reason for this change is to help mitigate rising prices in the rental market. While the policy is meant to manage the challenges faced by agents, it should be noted that the government is the main buyer of rental leases in Honiara and provincial hubs.

Middle-class homeowners rely on GIS rentals as a source of income to meet their needs as well as pay off any loans obtained to improve their properties. Currently the government is reducing their rents, tenants who had years of 100% waiver in 2022 the government only approved a maximum of 30% as an additional waiver on their tenancy eligibility. The new policy would further reduce the amount of money paid to agents, as the new policy suggests that rents will be paid based on agents’ eligibility and waivers will not be allowed. The government should seriously reconsider its decision on the matter based on the following reasons.

First, the psychological effect of politics on officers – Housing is a basic need, when you enjoy a house rented at $5,000 a month for many years, you suddenly get a cash rental from $3,700 per month with a shortfall of $1,300. This shortfall for a struggling officer cannot be deducted from his salary as it is too small to cover the shortfall. Officers will experience stress and anxiety.

Second, shock and excitement to pay a large amount of money. Officers did not have the comfort of receiving large sums of money paid to them, so when they receive their quarterly rents in a lump sum, the temptation to spend the money without paying their rent is great.

Third, landlords stand a chance of losing because they will be forced to reduce their rents in order to keep tenants. The difference in their income would affect their ability to meet their commitments, especially if they contracted loans.

I suggest that the Department of Public Service instead develop a new program that would help both its agents and the rental market to create win-win incentives for landlords and agents as tenants in general.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Charles Sisimia and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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