BREAKING NEWS

SIPEU welcomes Government’s policy change on Public Servants housing eligibility 

The Solomon Islands Public Employees Union (SIPEU) welcomes the latest government policy change on public servants rental entitlement.

At the same time, SIPEU General Secretary Robert Au said the union is working on what is best for public servants in lower positions within the public service employment structure. 

Mr Au told SIBC News in an interview today that the new rental policy will help public servants. 

“We welcome that policy change in which public servants will be paid directly their rental eligibility. SIPEU in its recent meeting put forward some recommendations to the public service on what sort of rates public service will use on this new policy,” Mr Au said.

He said the one reason SIPEU welcomes this is because most of the public servants who have been working for the government, and own houses in Honiara have never been benefiting from the government rental scheme, citing the public service General Order. 

“With this change, it will benefit public servants who reside in their own homes,” Mr Au said.  

Last week, Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Public Service Nego Sisiolo told SIBC News that rental eligibility of public officers is based on their position level. 

Mr Sisiolo said the new policy will come into effect as of January 2022.

This means a level one public servant is eligible for $1,500 monthly rental, a $200 add atop each of the position levels up to the government highest postholder Superscale 3 (SS3) with $4,500 monthly rental eligibility.

Many have taken to social media after SIBC News ran an article on Mr Sisiolo’s clarification. Some say lower position levels within the public service employment structure will be affected by the new policy as they will be finding difficulties in renting a decent house in Honiara.

Meanwhile, when asked today, Mr Au said the union is working on what is best for public servants in lower position levels.

“A number of them have waived part of their salary to rent a house that costs more than their rental entitlement, so the union is working on that, we will meet again and discuss further on that area.

“Any decision that comes out from that we will let the public servants know,” he said.

Last week, Mr Sisiolo informed SIBC News that SIG will pay its employees with Public Service Housing Assistance (PSHA). 

Mr Sisiolo said another reason for the change in policy is fairness on housing assistance to all officers and leaning towards efficiency in the management of housing as one of the conditions of employment.

“For those who own a property in Honiara, they may use the entitlement to further improve their property.

“Officers who are interested in applying for government-purchased Mamara villas could use such entitlement to rent and finally own a house at Mamara.

Mr Sisiolo said the rental entitlements will be taxed differently as per the current Tax Act.

The Public Service Permanent Secretary said the Government modelled that this policy change will maintain current housing budgeted cost while ensuring all officers are given fair treatment on housing terms and conditions.

by Jared Koli

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