ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday the mega project of construction of five million houses would kick-start from Gwadar to benefit the poor fishermen and later commence in Peshawar and other parts of the country to provide affordable housing units to low-income groups.
He was speaking at the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government of Pakistan, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Sustainable Housing Solutions on the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme.
The prime mister termed the financial and technical assistance from the UNOPS and the SHS a landmark development, saying the project would accelerate the wheels of economy by overcoming the shortage of housing units in the country, besides creating job opportunities.
He said the government was making efforts to bring about an economic turnaround, adding that the national economy had suffered due to plunder over the last decade.
The prime minister noted that the UNOPS financial assistance would utilise local labour and material, which would directly benefit 40 industries allied with the construction sector.
He said the construction of housing units would bolster the economy and bring expertise in the construction sector, besides encouraging the educated youth, new small and big companies and entrepreneurs to enter the sector.
Imran discusses bilateral relations and regional developments with UAE crown prince on phone
The administrative and legislative issues were being overcome as a one-window operation had been launched by the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority to facilitate investors and construction companies, he added.
Prime Minister Khan appealed to the Lahore High Court chief justice to immediately fix the case regarding foreclosure laws pending since long.
He observed that an early decision would enable the banking sector to extend loaning facilities and ease the mortgage process.
He said that under his government’s flagship Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, the people, particularly the salaried class with no financial resources, would be able to own their houses at affordable prices with easy instalments. Efforts were afoot to minimise the mark-up rates, he added.
The prime minister said taking new initiatives by the government was difficult, particularly when the country was facing financial issues, and expressed the confidence that he would deliver on his promise of providing 5m affordable houses to the people within five years.
The prime minister also witnessed signing of the MoU between the representatives of the government and the UNOPS and SHS.
The MoU will be the latest in the UNOPS Social Impact Investment Initiative (S3I), which has also been working on similar projects in Ghana, Kenya, Caribbean islands and India.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister for Housing Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema said the signing of MoU indicated the government’s seriousness to overcome the shortage of residential units in the country.
Vitaly Vanshelboim, the assistant secretary general, deputy executive director and chief operating officer of the UNOPS, said the construction of five million houses in Pakistan was the most ambitious and lucrative initiative, possessing huge market opportunities.
The UNOPS would ensure quality construction involving local labour, he said.
Contact with UAE crown prince
Prime Minister Imran Khan made a phone call to Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan and both exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional developments.
The prime minister reaffirmed the importance Pakistan attached to its strong fraternal ties with the UAE and close cooperation between the two countries.
The PM thanked the crown prince for releasing 700 Pakistani prisoners during Ramazan and appreciated the UAE’s support for Pakistan on the FATF issue.
The two leaders also discussed ways of further deepening bilateral cooperation in different spheres and agreed to maintain close consultations on regional and multilateral issues.
Contact with Afghan leadership
Prime Minister Khan asked KP Governor Shah Farman to increase contacts with political leadership of Afghanistan, saying best relationships at all levels between the two countries were in the interest of people of the region and would help achieve common goals.
The prime minister was talking to the governor who called on him at the PM Office.
Mr Khan directed the governor to make contacts with his Afghan counterparts. Farman Shah will invite governors of different provinces of Afghanistan to Pakistan, besides visiting Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2019