Naya Pakistan Housing Program no longer remains a Possibility

by M. Wasim

The vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Naya Pakistan Housing Program is “to deliver five million housing units with allied amenities to all citizens, specially focusing on the financially underserved and middle-income communities, as a measure of comprehensive socio-economic uplift.” That’s written on the official website of Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority expressing the raison d’etre of Naya Pakistan Housing Program. . However, two important developments in this week insinuate that the flagship program has now been shelved in red files.

Naya Pakistan Housing Program

Three main goal of the Naya Pakistan Housing Program are officially described as;

  • Need and demand-based construction of 5 million housing units in urban, peri-urban and rural areas, spread over the entire country.
  •  Offer respectable living to the citizens, especially the low to middle income group, at affordable cost
  • Generate construction activity in the country to provide stimulus to over forty housing and construction related industries

Although, the Prime Minister himself has conceded this year that his “flagship” 5 million houses wouldn’t be constructed by government, but private sector. But because of two recent developments it seems the program is no longer possible, even for private sector to turn it into reality.

Government Bar on Acquiring Land

First the government has barred last month all federal institutions from acquiring land for housing purposes, besides abolishing all quotas in the government housing schemes, except for its own employees.

With the barring all federal institutions from acquiring land for housing project, the PTI government has virtually abolished its own flagship Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP). Because the authorities concerned like the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority and Naya Pakistan Housing Authority would not be able now to acquire land for providing housing units to the needy people on affordable rates.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. On that development Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said in a tweet: `Today decades-old unjust system under which land was acquired forcibly from locals of Islamabad has ended by the cabinet.” However, the decision is unfair for the people who had already received payments for their land under any government award (fixing of government price for land) and beneficial for those who had not received it as they would get market price for their land.

Rising Construction Material Prices

Second is the continual price escalation of construction materials which the government has been found unable to contain. That has led the Constructors Association of Pakistan (CAP) to publish an advertisement in October 2021, revealing the prices of all construction materials increased by 76% this year. Owing to the sharp uptick in prices the CAP declared their inability to execute their business.

However, due to the ongoing inflation rate and unstable dollar position in the market, the prices of construction materials are still uncertain even in December. The government is still unmoved and unconcerned to control the prices. As price increase of major items are Steel Rs. 193,000 per ton, cement is 750 per bag, bitumen is 130,600 per ton, doors/windows are Rs. 860 square feet and cable 10mm2 is Rs. 211/ LM, nearly 80% up in a single year .

As a result all private project are stand still at the moment, despite the government is giving house financing on good markup rate. Similarly although a foreclosure law has been implemented but builders and developers fear to kick off construction as well as booking too. The CAP has officially stated that current construction contracts are no longer viable because of rising material prices. And, all together that has made housing beyond the reach of common man or low-income groups.

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