Members of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) who are directly affected by the volcano disaster on Ambae will be able to access funds from their retirement accounts to rebuild their houses and livelihoods.
This is part of an order issued by Parliament for VNPF to allow affected members to use 20% of their pension retirement fund for housing purposes and secondly, to rebuild their livelihoods.
The order was issued in May this year, after the major ash fall on Ambae. It took time for VNPF to ensure procedures and guidelines are in place before it starts implementing the order, said the General Manager (GM) of VNPF, Parmod Achary.
“From my experience, such schemes are always abused,” he said. “We want to make sure that whatever we allow as a withdrawal must be processed in a prudent manner.”
GM Achary said that the immediate family members of the victims such as spouses and children residing in Port Vila, Luganville, Lakatoro or Lenakel wanting to lend a hand through the scheme can also submit applications but they have to meet strict conditions.
“I must remind members that providing false information is an offence under VNPF Act”, he added.
The GM announced that Vt10million has been put aside for the implementation of the order for not more than 30 VNPF members on Ambae and relatives wanting to help.
In terms of rebuilding homes, VNPF interns to give the money directly to hardware shops but it is also exploring other options.
According to the GM, members can get quotations of building materials from nearest hardware shops for VNPF to purchase.
“We will make cash transfers directly to members from their retirement fund for the purpose of rebuilding lives,” he said.
“The condition is that the person must be from Ambae or have families in Ambae.If it is a second or third party, then we will probably have to scrutinise how the money will be given.
“We will give money to a third party only to rebuild houses.”
VNPF will be following up to ensure the scheme is not misused. The Fund will not hesitate to take action against anyone who provide misinformation. The VNPF GM was speaking to Kizzy Kalsakau from Buzz 96FM Nightly News.