WE are obsessed by a class structure in our society where we are identified by our outlook, lifestyle and wealth. Most population comprises the working class, starting from the lowest income group to the highly paid individuals.

This constitute almost 80 per cent of the total population. The living of this entire range of working classes is based on the division dictated by their income groups.

The lower the income, the lesser the space for occupants. Resultantly, a housing scheme of small residential area units is constructed irrespective of the size of a family. Likewise, higher income groups live in posh areas in houses which are beyond their needs.

This clearly demonstrates that our living is not need-based; rather it is status-based. At the same time the entire class composition has been created in a way where even if a higher status family wants to live in a need-based accommodation, there is no provision which provides the desired environment for their living.

In future, we have to look forward to a need-based living arrangements rather than a status-based living. It may sound an irrelevant talk because of Covid-19. But if we analyse the present economic crunch being faced by every segment of our population, extraordinary measures should be adopted.

In phase one, all large house owners facing the crunch should consider hiring out additional spaces or liquidate sellable portions.

Cash flow is the need of the hour. It is no use holding a property of millions of rupees when one cannot mobilise finances for basic needs. Realising cash flow for small businesses and joint ventures will help start alternative businesses.

Alternative arrangements for doing businesses would require generation of capital which is not expected from current businesses as there are no buyers. Already there has been a boom in online businesses and their related business of delivery, insurances and packaging, etc.

One would also look up to our financial wizards to develop financial investment plans for the liquidity envisaged by public in general. These financial instruments should give confidence and sovereign guarantees to those investors who would generate capital by downsizing their properties.

Future retiring individuals should not invest their entire life savings in brick and mortar just for the sake of their status or social pressures. Be a leader in changing the concept of living and discard the pseudo standards which are only conceived in our minds.

Let us be the trendsetters and invest the money in businesses and be part of building the economy instead of making dead investments which one can brag about in millions which do not generate cash for meeting the ever increasing expenditures.

In phase two, the government should involve this liquidity in upcoming government housing schemes and give financial relief to the silent majority which will generate cash flow from liquidity provided they have worthwhile assurances of their limited capital from the government.

At the same time, the government can wave off property and other taxes on 10-marla units or below to incentivise smaller houses rather than promoting housing schemes having large residential units.

Life has changed globally because of Covid-19. We as a nation have to sharpen our thoughts to meet future challenges and devise a methodology for creating finances for middle and lower income groups.

Maj-Gen (r) Tariq Jawaid
Lahore

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020