Housing assistance given to needy, victims of natural disasters

|     Rokiah Mahmud     |

THE Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, always gives priority and attention towards ensuring that the less fortunate in the country, including victims of natural disasters and fires, are given access to comfortable temporary shelter.

This was stated by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, while responding to a query by Legislative Council (LegCo) member and Village Head of Kampong Masjid Lama, Pekan Muara, Sabun and Pelumpong Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Mohamed bin Pengiran Haji Osman @ Othman at the LegCo meeting yesterday.

The minister added that the ministry together with its strategic partners also helps construct permanent housing for the victims.

He said that when it comes to providing permanent houses, the process involves coordination with various parties including the Ministry of Development (MoD) to expedite the disbursement of housing aid under the Housing Focus Group (HFG) for each case.

Referring to the information shared by the HFG committee, the minister revealed that a total of 1,526 government assets such as vacant flats, barracks and houses have been earmarked to be used as assistance for agencies that require them, especially for emergency cases.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

The minister also said assistance for the construction of houses also involves the Law and Welfare Division under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which acts as secretariat for the housing aid construction provision action committee for the poor and destitute.

“This project is carried out in collaboration with the MoD, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, and MCYS,” he said. “The project is fully funded by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) through tithe (Zakat) collections, and victims of natural disasters and fires given priority to this aid.

“The project secretariat also works together to obtain temporary shelter for the victims while they wait for (the processing of) the permanent housing assistance.”

The minister said that in the past 10 years, MUIB had carried out construction, repair works and purchased a total of 103 houses for recipients comprising Asnaf Fakir Miskin (poor and destitute) individuals in the country.

He added, “The MCYS at the same time also helps out in the construction of permanent housing for victims of natural disasters and fires as well as the less fortunate via the Community Development Department (JAPEM), together with its strategic partners such as Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and other volunteer groups.”

Under such initiatives, 16 houses have been built and repaired in the past five years. In 2019, the MCYS is aiming to construct two houses for the underprivileged. The minister also highlighted that assistance provided by the government last year for 1,637 people affected by fires, floods, strong winds, landslides and collapsed houses totalled almost BND350,000.