Housing scheme

September 22, 2019

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BEFORE coming to power, the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf promised to build five million housing units for deserving families in five years. This means it committed to deliver about 2,700 units per day.

Unless pre-fabricated units are ready to install, the fastest track may take 14 days on an average to prepare the precast elements and joints, which is a distant dream in Pakistan.

There is a gap of 10 million housing units as of July 2019 with incremental demand of 400,000 units per year. Was this promise planned realistically? The answer is ‘no’.

The agencies which are supposed to deliver the project are functional-oriented in nature, where red tape, bureaucratic approvals and trans-departmental differences are in abundance. The staff within these units and agencies are not trained or prepared to manage such a big project.

The government requires an immediate strategic review of the project to assess whether it is feasible to build five million units.

If not, what is the realistic number of units that can be delivered in five years? Are existing agencies capable of delivering it or not? Most probably, they are not. If not, then what should be the delivery mechanism? Who will be executing, regulating and monitoring the implementation on ground? What will be the shape of the special purpose vehicle?

A new department or a project management office under the prime minister is needed to ensure a high-level commitment while also streamlining the decision making process. Is the current level of expertise of government personnel sufficient to meet the demands? If not, are current local markets capable of providing the required number of experts with relevant experience and skills, even labour?

How will finance be managed? How will private partnership with real estate developers and financing banks be ensured? Are current commercial banks or house building financial institutes efficient enough to streamline financing or not? What are the collateral and warranties available for banks to avoid administrative requirements and unnecessary delays?

Muhammad Ali Shaikh
Seoul, South Korea

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2019