Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday inaugurated the first housing project for the general public. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
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PM opens housing project for general public

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday inaugurated the first housing project for the general public.

The project was launched under the PTI government’s much ambitious programme called Naya Pakistan Housing Project (NPHP) on a piece of land in the Phul­garan area where Bahria Town was already executing its housing scheme.

“The land for the project was provided by Bahria Town on very nominal rates,” director general of the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation Wasim Bajwa told Dawn after the inauguration ceremony.

Under the project, 18,500 housing units/apartments will be constructed and given to the low-income group on a mortgage basis.

Mr Bajwa said 1,785-kanal land had been acquired from Bahria Town for the NPHP. “Not only the land but Bahria Town’s management will also construct 10,000 housing units in the same area later for NPHP,” he said, adding that the cost of the land would be retired to Bahria Town after sale of housing units.

Mr Bajwa said the project was being executed in collaboration with Bahria Town under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSP). “It is the first housing scheme launched solely for general public under NHHP as previous schemes, under NPHP, were meant for federal government employees with a meagre share of general public with ratio of 70 per cent share of employees and 30pc of general public,” he added.

Talking about the mortgage policy, he said two to three banks, including the House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC), had been engaged and they would provide loans to individuals on easy monthly installment of Rs10,000.

Inaugurating the project, Prime Minister Khan said non-existence of foreclosure laws was one of the biggest hurdles in the way of the government’s housing programme as due to lack of laws banks could not sell out the mortgaged properties in case of default on loans.

Foreclosure is a remedy available to a creditor secured by mortgage to proceed against the property for satisfaction of the mortgage debt. However, in Pakistan the word foreclosure is used only in the sense of a right available to a mortgagee to bring the mortgaged property to sale to enforce the secured debt.

“We have a huge backlog of houses because banks do not give loans to the people for housing, while in India banks give 10 per cent housing loans, in Malaysia 30pc and UK 90pc for construction of houses,” he added.

Mr Khan said the government was carrying out the project through public-private partnership because the government itself had no money to execute such projects alone. He said that out of 18,500 housing units, 10,000 would be constructed for those who had no finances to build their own houses. “The project will be completed in one to five years,” he added.

Prime Minister Khan said the government also planned to convert katchi abadis (shanty settlements) into well-planned housing schemes all over the country. “Under the plan, half of the areas of katchi abadis will be converted into commercial area and half will be turned into low-cost apartment to be given to the dwellers of katchi abadis to that they can have their own houses in their present locations,” he added.

He said the government wanted to give proprietary rights to the residents of katchi abadis for which negotiations were under way with some interested developers.

Mr Khan said many foreign investors wanted to make investment in Pakistan’s housing sector. “This is beginning of a new housing era in which those who could not even thing for their own house will get it as committed by the government,” he added.

Unlikely his previous speeches, the prime minister did not criticise the opposition in his address this time.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019

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