ISLAMABAD: At a time when the government claims that it is focusing on development projects across the country, one of its flagship programmes of constructing homes for the low-income segment of society is awaiting implementation.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Apna Ghar Housing Scheme in 2013, but so far, the meetings, mappings and follow-up huddles have yielded nothing. The scheme is limited to files only, officials said.
The housing ministry sends a summary to Prime Minister’s Secretariat and months later it is returned with more questions, ministry officials said. The project has yet to be placed before the cabinet for any discussion, they said.
Sources in the ministry revealed the scheme was on the least priority agenda of the government. “Progress is nowhere in sight, at least in the on-going financial year,” said an official requesting anonymity. The first reply to a housing ministry’s summary from the PM Secretariat came in June this year, when the office sought business plan for the project. The reply came one year after the last correspondence.
The manifesto of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vowed to provide low-cost housing. “At least 1,000 clusters of 500 houses each for low-income families will be developed on a public private partnership mode,” states the manifesto of the party.
As per the Apna Ghar Scheme, the provinces will provide the land free of charge and the federal government will construct 500,000 housing units around Pakistan in five years.
However, the scheme could never take off, sources said. The housing ministry, prior to the 2016-17 budget asked for Rs350 million for the scheme, including Rs35 million for the project’s secretariat in Islamabad, they said.
The government, as per budget documents, only allocated Rs10 million in the new fiscal year for the project’s secretariat and also directed the ministry not to establish a separate setup and instead turn the ministry into sub-office of the Apna Ghar Scheme. According to the ministry’s official, so far, land has been identified for the project in Jhelum and Gwadar and some other areas of Balochistan.
Similarly, the project has yet to get a permanent chief executive and related staff to run the programme as another summary for these appointments is pending with the PM for over eight months. Currently, a joint secretary of the ministry is holding acting charge.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2016.