The United Nations (UN) states in article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Right that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36...
Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36 from the image at http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/maplib/flag.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, successive governments have failed miserably to address this basic right which has forced a good number of working populace to seek affordable accommodation in squatter settlement and inadequate properties in and around the city.

President of the Public Employees Association (PEA), Michael Malabag, is right to push for a K250 housing allowance. The truth is that accommodation in Port Moresby is very expensive – too expensive – compared to a few years back. It is unfortunate that his attempts have been stone walled.

Now, I’ve read in The National that the Secretary for Department of Personnel Management John Kali wanted do away with the housing allowance for public servants. This is a direct slap in the face of the little man. Kali does not have a housing problem and hence does not seem to feel the pain that others are going through.

The same can be said about our representatives in parliament who have never debated the issue seriously but were so eager to pass the controversial Judicial Bill or to vote for an increase in their pay. I’ve noted that they take swift and decisive action when it concerns them directly.

Anyway, the point is housing and accommodation is a necessity and our leaders should start thinking of making employers obligated to provide accommodation. Employers need to take responsibility to cater for the basic needs of their employees including accommodation and housing. This includes the largest employer in the country – the national government.

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