16 Sep 2008

Chinese loan only way to rehouse Fiji's squatters - official

2:34 pm on 16 September 2008

The head of Fiji's Housing Authority says a multi-million dollar loan from China is the only way of rehousing the country's thousands of squatters.

The Fiji Times describes Sir James Ah Koy as the key figure behind a 140 million US dollar Chinese soft loan for low-cost housing and other projects.

Sir James declined to speak to Radio New Zealand International on the grounds that the deal is a private matter.

But the Housing Authority's chief executive, Alipate Naiorosui, says he believes the money allocated for housing is about 33 million US dollars or enough to re-house up to half of Fiji's hundred thousand squatters.

"China is the only country and we're thankful to the Chinese government for coming forward to assist us at this stage, I know Australia and New Zealand have stopped doing that and they've come on board. They're the only ones who have come on board and we're looking into it. We would welcome any other offer of assistance from any other country that could assist the Fijian population to get better housing"

Alipate Naiorosui says he would like to see his authority establish a relationship with Housing New Zealand in order to house more homeless people more quickly.