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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday unveiled his government’s “flagship” project – Naya Pakistan Housing Programme – aimed at constructing five million houses for the low-income segments of society during the next five years.
Imran Khan on Wednesday formally launched a low-cost housing scheme named ‘Naya Pakistan Housing Project’ as part of his party’s election manifesto.
The prime minister hoped that the successful implementation of the programme would not only boost the country’s economy but also create immense job opportunities.
Speaking at the launch of the housing scheme, the prime minister defended his government’s decision to seek the IMF loan, saying it is being obtained for a short period to bridge yawning external financing gap.
The government would provide the required land for the project and play the role of a regulator and facilitator to address bottlenecks to provide an enabling environment through the one-window facilitation center for public and private sectors and non-profit organizations who would execute the project.
The prime minister said soon after the government announced the five million housing project, foreign construction companies started approaching the relevant authorities in the country to become part of the project.
The prime minister explained it was decided during a meeting either to approach the IMF or friendly countries for a loan to shore up fast depleting foreign currency reserves.
He said the government faced a short fall of 10 to 12 billion dollars.
Mr. Khan said Pakistan’s debt climbed to Rs 30,000 billion from Rs 6,000 billion over the past ten years, adding that the previous PML-N government left behind a whopping deficit of 18 billion dollars for the incoming government to grapple with.
He said the present government’s reforms would begin to bear fruit after six months.
The prime minister resolved to pull the nation out of this abyss and added he would soon spell out a blueprint of how he would navigate the country out of troubling times.
He said 10 billion dollars are laundered every year. Had the previous governments eradicated this menace of money laundering, they wouldn’t have to take loans, he opined.
“Even one country expressed its intention to invest up to $20 billion in this project,” the prime minister revealed.
He said the government would target ordinary Pakistanis who never even imagined in the past to have a house of their own and they will directly benefit from this programme.
The prime minister announced that a pilot project would be commenced on Thursday (today) with the initiation of the registration process for low-cost houses of the federal government employees of BS-1 to BS-16 in the federal capital. The pilot project would be executed by the private sector under a joint venture with the federal housing foundation.
Naya Pakistan Housing Authority
The prime minister announced setting up of an apex body named the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority to create one-window facility to facilitate and regulate the private sector.
Imran said he would himself oversee the operations of the proposed authority that will be set up in the next 90 days.
However, till the proposed authority starts formal work, a 17-member taskforce with the private sector in the lead role will look after the project’s affairs.
Five million houses would be provided to low-income people under the Naya Pakistan Housing Project.
The prime minister expressed confidence that the programme would not only help realize the dream of a shelter for the poor but also create employment opportunities. It will also attract local and foreign investment and stimulate about forty related industries.
He announced formation of a Naya Pakistan Housing Authority to serve as one window for all construction related formalities. The authority would be set up in three months and till then a Task Force would look after the housing project.
A National Financial Regulatory Body would be set up in two months to remove hurdles in financing of construction of houses.
A legal framework would also be prepared to ensure that there are no legal hurdles in the way of implementation of the housing project.
He said a Land Bank would be instituted to identify land with the federal government, housing ministry, provincial governments and local bodies.
The prime minister also announced setting up of land bank within the next two months, saying suitable land sites were available with the federal and provincial governments, local bodies and private sectors and in areas occupied by slums.
He said the government would facilitate the project with regard to the provision of land. He said on existing slums, vertical buildings will be constructed and residents of slums would be given ownership rights there.
The prime minister said it was a demand-driven initiate and; therefore, with the help of the country’s database authority the data bank of potential beneficiaries of the project will be developed.
He said the registration process will be started initially in seven districts. People will be asked to submit forms at designated sites of NADRA from October 22.
He said the exercise would be aimed to get exact knowledge of demand in different areas across the country.
The prime minister said applicants would be asked basic information like where they want to live and how much money they can pay per month in return for obtaining the house loan.
The prime minister lamented that only rich can afford to purchase or construct houses in the country and “due to impediments in our legal structure, obtaining loans to construct houses by lower income groups is very difficult”.
He said only 0.25% Pakistanis obtain loans to construct or purchase houses while it was up to 80% in the US, 30% in Malaysia, 9-11% in India and 3% in Bangladesh.
“The government housing policy will remove all the impediments that hinder Pakistanis to avail loan facility to construct or purchase houses,” Imran announced.
The financial model of the project, which is yet to be finalized, provides for the provision of mortgage facility to buyers with a repayment plan of up to 20 years.
Moreover, the government plans to raise funds through the issuance of sub-sovereign bonds, municipality housing or Sukuk bonds.
The finance ministry has been asked to finalize a complete financial model of the project in the next two months.
He said the government housing projects fail in Pakistan due to the absence of a proper mortgage finance model in the country.
The prime minister said with the help of the State Bank of Pakistan, a National Financial Regulatory Body would be established in two months to regulate and facilitate the financial loans.
Talking about the necessary legal framework for the project, the prime minister said the law ministry would do the necessary work to determine the legal status of available land and necessary foreclosure and eviction laws in the next two months.
The prime minister said the construction industry would create jobs for unemployed youth of the country, while it would directly benefit some 40 industries.
“I want the younger generation to start their own construction firms and companies. The government will also initiate skill development programmes related to the construction industry for the youth,” he said.
He said investment in the construction industry was considered the safest across the world and it will help boost GDP growth.
He said there is a shortfall of 10 million houses in the country while annual housing demand is around 0.7 million units.
He said the houses would not only be constructed in major cities but also in villages.