Govt to launch Rs400bn construction projects by year-end: minister

Updated 17 Jul 2020

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development on Thursday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development on Thursday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: To pave the way for economic growth, the government has decided to launch over Rs400 billion construction projects by the end of this year.

“Construction projects worth Rs400 billion would be initiated by the end of December this year,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said at a press conference on Thursday after the second meeting of the National Committee on Housing, Construction and Development (NCHCD), chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Accompanied by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar, the information minister said that a mega project for construction of houses and apartments worth Rs145bn would be started by October. “Many more will follow suit,” he added.

He said Prime Minister Khan was giving special attention to the uplift of the construction sector as this had the potential to revive the national economy as well as realise the dream of the disadvantaged segments of society to own their houses.

Imran chairs meeting of national committee on housing, construction and development

“He [PM Khan] is keen to hold a meeting of NCCD twice a week,” he added.

The meeting was also attended by some of the top builders of the country, including Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Arif Habib and Mohsin Shaikhani.

“The meeting was attended by the country’s prominent builders and developers and it discussed several proposals to uplift the sector, including holding international road shows for construction-related projects, to attract investment from expatriates,” Shibli Faraz said.

The prime minister once again invited builders and developers to invest more in the construction industry to get advantage of recess in economic obligations till Dec 31, 2020. “The builders and developers and general public should take advantage of the government’s construction policy by December. A one-window operation system has also been devised to reduce the time required for clearance of the documents,” he added.

The information minister quoted the prime minister as saying: “Take full advantage of relaxation and invest in construction sector as this will not only overcome housing backlog in the country but also provide jobs to the people.”

Mr Faraz said the people building five-marla houses would be given loans on five per cent mark-up, whereas for the 10-marla houses, the mark-up rate will be 7pc. “Schedule for payment of installments would be within the reach of the low-income groups,” he added.

The minister had a couple of days ago said that investors had an opportunity to whiten their black money by investing in the construction sector.

He said the prime minister would hold meetings of the NCHCD to personally monitor the situation in the construction sector and ensure steps to remove impediments in the way of launching housing projects.

The meeting discussed in details all issues, including taxes and maps and utilities. The mechanism for lending to the construction sector also came under discussion.

The objective of the meetings of the National Coordinating Committee was to maintain liaison with all stakeholders.

The information minister said the prime minister had decided to hold the meeting of the committee every two or three days keeping in view the importance of the sector. “Focus of the prime minister’s policies are the middle class and poor segments of society,” he added.

Mr Faraz said recent auctions of the Capital Development Authority fetched more than expected returns which were the manifestation that environment for the construction sector in the country was conducive.

He said the government has asked banks to dedicate about Rs330 billion of their lending portfolios for the construction industry. “So far the banks’ lending for the housing sector was less than one per cent, whereas in neighbouring India this ratio was over 27 per cent. An increase in banks’ lending would revolutionise the housing industry as so far there was no concept of a mortgage in Pakistan,” he added.

The minister said the people of Pakistan did not suffer much as compared to many other countries. “The outbreak of coronavirus has made the government more determined to save the people from problems,” he added.

During the meeting, he said, some good proposals were presented, like overseas Pakistani investors should be given incentives for investing in the construction sector. He said the PM’s Naya Pakistan Housing programme would be a game changer for bringing about prosperity and economic growth in the country.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2020