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'Everyone wants a home': PM Khan lauds SBP for low-cost housing incentives

Updated March 11, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses  a ceremony in connection with the launch of State Bank of Pakistan's finance policy for low-cost housing in Islamabad on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony in connection with the launch of State Bank of Pakistan's finance policy for low-cost housing in Islamabad on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said it was important for the government to make cash available for the common man in Pakistan to be able to own low-cost houses.

Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad in connection with the launch of State Bank of Pakistan's finance policy for low-cost housing, the premier said ever since his government took office, their focus has been on efforts to lift the lowest segments of society and reduce poverty "as was exactly done by China".

He said the government had an ambitious plan to build five million low-cost housing units in five years, but this would not be possible unless a case regarding foreclosure laws is concluded by the Lahore High Court.

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"Everyone wants a home of their own," the prime minister said, adding that it was important to make cheap financing available for the underprivileged class for them to own houses.

Khan noted that the ratio of financing available for housing to GDP is just 0.2 per cent in Pakistan, compared with 10pc in India, 30pc in Malaysia and more than 80pc in western countries.

He appreciated the SBP for incentivising banks to lend money to citizens for low-cost housing.

He also lauded the provision of credit through the SBP policy for small farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), saying they were the "backbone" of the economy.

The prime minister noted that the special package in the policy meant for tribal areas would be crucial as the people in those formerly war-torn areas are looking to rebuild their houses and infrastructure. The inclusion of the transgender community and widows in the policy was also "positive", he added.

Khan said Pakistan had become a country just for "the elite and the powerful" and his government was striving to revert it back to a society with compassion, as envisioned by the country's founding fathers.

He noted that the government's flagship affordable housing programme will boost 40 other affiliated industries and generate employment in the country.

The government also has plans to regularise katchi abadis by replacing them with flats, the premier revealed.

"We will not let cities in Pakistan expand [horizontally] anymore, we will take the cities upwards," he vowed, stressing that the expansion of cities was endangering green areas and could put the national food security and environment at risk.

Except for areas with aviation restrictions, citizens will be allowed to build high-rises in commercial areas of Islamabad to whatever heights they prefer, the prime minister announced.

Earlier, Finance Minister Asad Umar in his remarks said the low-cost housing programme was critical for the economy because housing was one of the industries with the most linkages with other sectors.

"Housing is a sector in which there is immense job creation against every unit of investment," he said, noting that it's written in the Constitution that the state will make every effort to provide a roof over every citizen's head.

He lauded the SBP for "fulfilling its responsibility" with the issuance of the financing facility and expressed the hope that banks will take full advantage of the same.