ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday presided over a meeting to review progress on formulation of a roadmap for the construction of five million houses across the country and decided that the project would be monitored and implemented directly by the Prime Minister Office.
It was decided in the meeting that the prime minister would take the “ownership” of the initiative to ensure smooth implementation and remove any administrative bottlenecks, says an official announcement made by the PM Office.
Mr Khan directed the committee to finalise its recommendations regarding formulation of a comprehensive plan of action with delineated timelines within two weeks for early launching of the housing programme.
PM will take ‘ownership’ of initiative to remove administrative bottlenecks
The secretary of housing briefed the prime minister about the current situation vis-à-vis the annual demand and shortfall in the housing sector. He also identified various options regarding ensuring availability of land bank, raising for the required finances through different modes and undertaking administrative and legal measures needed to encourage private sector and foreign investors towards the PM’s housing initiative.
The prime minister, in his remarks, said provision of five million houses, equipped with all basic facilities and regularisation of katchi abadis/slums, was the foremost priority of the government being a part of the election manifesto of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
The prime minister said that construction of affordable housing initiative would not only provide shelter to the homeless, but would generate huge economic activity by providing millions of jobs and boosting all industries linked to the housing sector.
The prime minister said that besides availability of vast state lands across the country, utilisation of prime lands of the state guest houses and other government-owned accommodations and properties in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone could generate billions of rupees for the five million housing scheme.
Talking to Dawn, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry explained that the five million housing project would be monitored and implemented by the PM Office, instead of the Ministry of Housing.
The minister said that the government aimed to “acquire all the illegal lands from the rich and influential people and give it to the poor”. He added that the anti-encroachment drive currently under way in various cities was also part of the scheme. He said that the government would soon reveal all details of the housing scheme.
Earlier, through his official account on social media website Twitter, Mr Khan said that Pakistan was sitting on hundreds of billions of rupees in “dead capital” in the form of state land and rest houses and official residences built on that land.
The prime minister said that he had come to know that 34,459 kanals of the state-owned land was located in rural areas while 17,035 kanals was in urban areas.
“Just the urban land with buildings is worth over Rs300bn,” Mr Khan tweeted.
“A country that has to borrow money to pay interest on its loans is sitting on huge amounts of dead capital in the form of the government-owned land with buildings,” Mr Khan said.
He said that the loans the country had been taking were burdening its future generations, regretting that the daily interest liability was a whopping Rs5bn.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018