Action for Housing’s revelation that the Ombudsman was not pursuing the investigation regarding the housing allocation case raised by the group 6 months ago is surprising and concerning. The Ombudsman’s reaction today only raises further questions and wholly fails to clarify the matter.
The public will be reminded that the GSD raised its own concerns in relation to the alleged allocation of public housing to someone who was not eligible – the issue having first been put in the public domain by Action for Housing. The NGO’s seeking of clarification was met by an aggressive response by the Chief Minister representing nothing other than a wall of silence.
In his reaction today the Ombudsman says that the matter was ‘fully investigated’, without stating how and without addressing the group’s allegation that he said he did not investigate because he believed in the credibility of the government official concerned. He then seems to cite further and different grounds for the apparent non- investigation as being that his Office did not investigate complaints made by political organisations. It is not clear why the Ombudsman considers Action for Housing to be a political organisation but if that is the case why did he reach a determination (in this case not to investigate after he presumably approached the official) on a complaint brought by a body he considered had no standing to do so?
The Ombudsman’s reply leaves many questions unanswered on what is a matter of public and political importance.
In the end, despite the NGO’s raising of an issue of public concern, they and the public are left with no answers. Legitimate issues of process – such as why someone who is allegedly not eligible to be placed on the housing list is so placed and then rapidly allocated a government property – are left unanswered.
It has to be emphasised that this is not about the individuals concerned. This is about legitimate questions being raised about a government’s behaviour on a matter as important as the fair allocation of much sought after social housing, in respect of which the shroud of secrecy continues to stubbornly prevail.
The GSD has asked Action for Housing for a copy of the Ombudsman’s reply.