Housing Minister Aminath Athifa, on Thursday, said the government expected to finalize the list of tenants for housing units built in suburban Hulhumale’ under the Hiyaa Housing Project by the end of July.
Athifa was summoned for a virtual meeting of the Parliament’s National Development and Heritage Committee on Thursday afternoon.
At the meeting, Athifa said the delay in handing over the housing units was due to delays in conducting the assessment of the living situations of applicants.
She said the Housing Ministry was currently engaged in crosschecking the list.
The Hiyaa Housing Project was launched during the administration of former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen. The 7,000 housing units under the project were constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC). The corporation built total 16 25-story buildings under the project.
The project attracted some 22,000 applicants, and the then-government had released a list of tenants for the units – which had yet to be built – in its last days, a move which President Yameen’s successor, President Solih, accused of being a last ditch effort to run a corrupt scheme.
Solih convened a committee of five members to investigate issues related to previous government housing projects including the Hiyaa Project, Gedhoruveri Kurun Project and Gulhifalhu Housing Project in one of his first acts of office.
The committee had held a press conference to provide an update regarding its work only once.
Solih, in his annual address to the Parliament in February, promised the 7,000 housing units will be handed over to its rightful tenants within this year. And he later announced that the units will be handed over based on the list compiled by the former administration.
Speaking at the committee meeting on Thursday, Athifa said the Housing Ministry was currently engaged in crosschecking the list, and arranging financial guarantees.
She said that the tenants who have been approved will receive documents pertaining to financial guarantees as soon as government offices reopen.
She said the work on arranging financial guarantees had been delayed due to the closure of government offices in face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Athifa said that just before government offices had closedin March, the housing committee had informed the Housing Ministry it would finalize the list within two weeks.
“So we told them to provide us with the applications they have already cleared. They provided us with the names of all applications within the week. I think it amounted to about 25,000. We began crosschecking it against the list on our database the same week, and are working on sending it once [offices] reopen,” she said.
Athifa said the Housing Ministry has information pertaining to properties across Maldives, expect for a few islands.
“The work stalled during the process of conducting living situation assessments,” she said.
When asked by Kurendhoo MP Abdul Ghanee regarding when the Housing Ministry will begin handing over the housing units, Athifa responded that she expected to begin handing over the housing units before the end of July.
“I expect that if we resume the work after the reopening [of government offices], we can begin the handover before the end of July,” she said.
However, the Housing Ministry later issued a statement from Athifa, which says the handover process will not begin in July.
“We are working on finalizing the list of tenants for the 7,000 housing units by the end of July. The goal is to complete the units by September, and to complete the handover of housing units under the Hiyaa Housing Project before the end of this year, as announced by the President,” said Athifa in the statement.
Editor’s note: This article was originally based on the remarks by Housing Minister Aminath Athifa during the parliamentary committee meeting, but has since been revised in light of the Housing Ministry’s statement.