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Imran Khan Says ‘Naya Pakistan Housing Project’ Launch In April To Build 5 Million Units

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ISLAMABAD– Massive housing project to build five million units, mainly for low-income group, would be launched next month to cope with the shortage of around 10 million houses in Pakistan, announced Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday.

The premier said the government was formulating foreclosure laws in collaboration with the State Bank of Pakistan, as the country lacked mortgage facility for low-income group.

He said addressing “Pakistan Housing Conference: Institutional Preparedness to implement New Housing Strategy”, organized by the World Bank in Islamabad.

The prime minister said though the achievement of the ambitious target of five million houses was difficult, the government was in process of establishing the required infrastructure before its launch.

PM said after launch, the project would also face an incremental increase every year. He said the private sector would support to achieve this gigantic task and the government would merely act as facilitator.

He told the audience that the growth of 40 industries was linked with the housing sector and the government
desired the youngsters to come up in this project and form new companies. He said under this scheme, the poor would be provided house financing that was just a dream in the past as all the facilities like loans, English medium schools, hospitals and subsidies were enjoyed by the elite class.

He said in case anyone would be unable to afford the house-finance, the government would also get him sponsored as the people would be able to pour their money once their trust in government was revived.

He said the slums in the federal capital
lacked amenities and instead of addressing the issue, the elite class
built boundary walls around to conceal the ill-planned inhabitation.
However, he said Naya Pakistan Housing Programme included measures to
regularize the slums and accommodate the inhabitants in new houses or
condominium-styled buildings. The private sector would build these
units at cost of commercial areas to be developed at the land.

The prime minister said the government had
decided to allow maximum vertical buildings all around except within
the landing and take-off zones of the airports. The vertical
constructions would help save the arable land being eaten up by the
massive growth of the housing societies.

Lauding the performance of the Housing Task
Force, the prime minister said the body would also benefit from the
Singapore style of housing to ensure the efficient use of land. He
said the government had asked all the departments to submit details of
their land bank and lamented the officers’ mindset of concealing the
information because the land grabbers had been occupying the land with
their connivance. He said the government had decided to initiate
criminal cases against the officials involved in such wrongdoings. He
said in Islamabad, the government had retrieved land worth Rs500
billion from illegal occupants, not the poor residents.

He said housing programme would also benefit
the tribal areas through the house financing as the area had suffered
a lot due to lawlessness.

The prime minister said the project had drawn
surprising response from Chinese as well as Malaysian companies and
lauded the World Bank for hosting the much-needed workshops on the
housing sector.

‘Establishing Legal, administrative and institutional set-ups to launch the project’

Addressing the event, Chairman Task Force on Housing Zaigham Rizvi said the government had started establishing legal, administrative and institutional set-ups to launch the project.

He said under the project, 0.4 million housing units per year would be built in rural areas, 0.2 million in pre-urban and 0.4 million in urban ones.

He said the massive land bank of departments could be used for building new housing colonies or even cities. The Evacuee Trust Property Board owned around 110,000 acres of land, where new cities
could be established.

He said housing had been used in the past as political
slogans with nothing on ground; however, the incumbent government was
in process of forming a Housing Authority and Real Estate Regulatory
Authority, besides formulating new laws for mortgage facility.

He said an exclusive web portal would be designed that
would provide information regarding the land available for housing and
the landowners would also be able to upload information about their
properties to invite the interested parties.

Rizvi said 40 percent of the programme comprised rural
housing. The university students had also been made part of the
programme, who would work on rural sector and form their own
engineering firms to create employment opportunities, he added.

He said the National Bank of Pakistan had agreed to
finance the rural housing. Under the shelter programme, the sponsors
would support the applicants, who would be unable to pay the loans.

Country Director World Bank Illango Patchamuthu said
housing was five percent of the World Bank’s portfolio that could
support another 40 industries.

He said Pakistan had no housing finance company and access
to the service land was another problem.

He said in Pakistan it took around 25 years for an
individual to own a house comparing five years in the international
market.

‘Housing prices doubled, rent increased by 189pc’

World Bank Urban Planner Fizza Sajjad said Pakistan faced
shortfall of around 10 million units with annual addition of 350,000
to 400,000 units per year.

She said population of 10 cities, including Islamabad,
Peshawar, Lahore, Hyderabad and others, had crossed the one million
mark. The household size in Pakistan was also decreasing, she added.

She said formal housing only catered to the needs of the
wealthy class. According to data, 68 percent of Lahore’s population
could only afford one percent of the housing stock.

Fizza Sajjad said during 2012-2017, housing prices had been doubled and rent increased by 189 percent.

Later, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company (PMRC) and First Women Bank Limited to provide finance facility of up to Rs 300 million to increase women ownership. A refinance agreement between House Building Finance Corporation and PMRC was also signed for disbursement of Rs 2 billion for low-income group under their newly launched Ghar Pakistan
Scheme.

Under an MoU signed with PMRC, Khushali Bank would provide finance facility of up to Rs 500 million to increase participation of low-income group. Askari Bank and Bank Islami signed separate refinance agreements of Rs 1 billion with PMRC to support middle and low income segments.

SOURCE: APP