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By Freddie Gigmai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 11) – Many residents in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, have raised complaints about the high rental charged by real estate companies.

However, the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) and the National Housing Corporation (NHC) said they had no power as yet to impose any control measures.

Various residents working in both the public and private sectors interviewed by The National said rent charged by various real estate companies were too excessive and unaffordable for the average income earner, forcing them to live in settlements or bunk up with friends and relatives.

"Many are being forced to live in the settlements because the fees are too excessive. With the current high prices of food and other necessities, it is unaffordable," one Waigani resident complained.

[PIR editor’s note: Squatter settlements are a dilemma in Papua New Guinea metropolitan areas. According to PIR files, report after report gathers dust on shelves at Waigani - in the capital district of Port Moresby - about what to do with city squatters or settlers (read related story).]

"(Olgeta pe go long haus rent na mipela bai kaikai wanem?) All our fortnightly earnings is consumed by the rental fees and what are we going to eat?" a Gordon resident remarked.

Other residents interviewed said the Papua New Guinea Government, ICCC, and NHC must seriously address the ever-increasing rental rates charged by the real estate firms.

ICCC said it had no power under the ICCC Act to control the rental fees, explaining that the service was not a ‘declared service’ as of yet.

"We only control the prices of goods and services that are termed and identified as declared therefore we are unable to do anything about it," an ICCC staff said.

The National Housing Corporation sympathized with residents but it clarified yesterday that the NHC Act generally covered government housing only and they too had no control over the issue.

NHC further said Housing Minister Atimeng Buhupe was also concerned and they were already looking at establishing a working committee comprising appropriate bodies to come up with necessary legislations and frameworks to address the issue.

January 12, 2006

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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