ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced the launching of five million housing units, mainly for low-income groups, under the Naya Pakistan Housing Project from next month to cope with the shortage of around 10 million houses in the country.
Under the project, five million housing units would be built.
He was speaking at a conference titled ‘Pakistan Housing Conference: Institutional Preparedness to Implement New Housing Strategy.’ The event was organised by the World Bank.
The prime minister said though achieving the ambitious target of five million houses was a difficult task, the government was in the process of establishing the required infrastructure before the launching of the project.
The event was attended by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, the chairman of Housing Task Force, Zaigham Rizvi, World Bank’s Country Director Illango Patchamuthu and international experts on housing and house financing.
Imran reiterates five million units will be built under the scheme
The prime minister said that the government was formulating foreclosure laws in collaboration with the State Bank of Pakistan as the country lacked mortgage facility for low-income groups.
He said that after the 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 a facilitator.
He told the audience that the growth of 40 industries was linked with the housing sector and the government wanted youngsters to come up in this project and form new companies.
Mr Khan said that under the scheme, the poor would be provided house financing that was just a dream in the past. He said that in case anyone was 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 the government was revived.
He said that slum areas in the federal capital lacked amenities and instead of addressing the issue, the elite class had built boundary walls around these areas to conceal the ill-planned inhabitation.
However, he said the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme included measures to regularise slums and accommodate inhabitants in new houses or condominium-styled buildings.
The prime minister said the government had decided to allow maximum vertical buildings all around the country except within the landing and take-off zones of airports.
The vertical constructions would help save the arable land being eaten up by the massive growth of housing societies.
Lauding the performance of the Housing Task Force, the prime minister said that the body would also benefit from the Singapore-style of housing to ensure the efficient use of land.
He said in Islamabad, the government had retrieved land worth Rs500 billion from illegal occupants.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the Task Force on Housing Zaigham Rizvi said that the government had started establishing legal, administrative and institutional set-ups to launch the project.
He said that under the project, 0.4 million housing units per year would be built in rural areas, 0.2m in pre-urban and 0.4m in urban ones.
He said the massive land bank of departments could be used for building new housing colonies or even cities. He said that the Evacuee Trust Property Board owned around 110,000 acres of land, where new cities could be established.
World Bank Country Director Illango Patchamuthu said housing was five per cent of the World Bank’s portfolio that could support another 40 industries.
He said that Pakistan had no housing finance company and access to the service land was another problem.
He said that in Pakistan it took around 25 years for an individual to own a house compared with five years in the international market.
World Bank Urban Planner Fizza Sajjad said that Pakistan faced a shortfall of around 10m units with an annual addition of 350,000 to 400,000 units per year.
She said that the population of 10 cities, including Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Hyderabad, had crossed the one million mark. The household size in Pakistan was also decreasing, she added.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2019