The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to providing affordable homes for civil servants.
The Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office, in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe disclosed this at a sensitization programme for both Public and Civil servants across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the processes and procedures of accessing a house under the FISH programme on Thursday in Abuja.
Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe, who was represented by the Director, Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH)Department, Mrs Uchenna Obi in her welcome address stated that the main focus of the sensitization programme, was to create the awareness on the FISH programme operational guidelines, processes and procedures for allocation of houses to Federal public/Civil servants and to ensure smooth implementation of the FISH Programme in order to elicit wider participation.
Other objectives, she said includes; to elicit inputs and get the buy-in of Public Servants on the FISH Programme and to showcase the moderate achievement of the programme since inception.
She added that the welfare of civil servants is of paramount interest to the present administration as it forms one of the cardinal objectives of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation plan 2021-2025.
She noted that despite the initial challenges encountered in the implementation of the FISH Programme, much achievements have been recorded.
“One of such efforts was the streamlining of the procedures and processes of the programme to ensure effective delivery, this culminated into the production of three FISH Handbooks for (off-takers, Developers, Operators and Investors) to provide a comprehensive guide to the operations of the FISH Programme” She added.
She further said, “The handbooks present detailed criteria for allocating FISH Houses to eligible Civil Servants, step by step processes for the allocation of Houses in the Programme, implementation framework for provision of affordable Housing, categories of partnerships for the FISH Programme and requirements for Real Estate Developer`s participation in the FISH Programme.”
She also said the FISH Department has embarked on more rigorous screening of estate developers who have indicated interest in participating in the Programme, adding that the Department has developed standard guidelines on which all developers are measured and only those that meet the criteria would be signed up.
She however noted that some off-takers unnecessarily delay the processes for mortgage payment by Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), by not providing relevant documents to the Board which delays the processing of payments. She urged interested workers to comply with all relevant mortgage requirements by the Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB) to ensure a seamless process.
In his presentation, the Executive Secretary of Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board, Alhaji Ibrahim Mairiga, said the mandate of the Board as stipulated in the Law establishing it is to manage a housing loans scheme under a revolving fund to grant soft loans to all interested public servants within the limit of available resources and in accordance with relevant regulations to enable beneficiaries buy or build their houses with ease.
Mairiga said that the loan threshold civil servants are entitled to ranges from N3 million to N20 million, depending on applicant’s grade level, choice of accommodation and affordability of the house.
He noted that the Board also provides soft loans to career Federal public servants, including military and para-military, staff of Judiciary and National Assembly staff as well as other statutory government owned agencies at 3% interest rate.
Akinwumi Taiwo Olufunke
For: Director (Press and Public Relations)