Builders launch low-cost housing schemes in Karachi, Islamabad

Will offer 20,000 units of 120 square yards each for Rs1.5 million

The State Bank of Pakistan and the World Bank would also provide financing as they have earmarked up to Rs50 billion for low-cost housing projects. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: A consortium of private builders and developers has launched the much-awaited low-cost housing schemes for the low and middle-income groups in Pakistan that are partially being financed by the World Bank.

Various governments, including the current PML-N government, promised such housing schemes to the masses, but they never kept their words.

Low-cost housing scheme yet to get off ground

“Initially, we are launching four low-cost housing schemes in Islamabad and Karachi with an estimated investment of Rs60 billion,” Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani said at the fourth international expo that was opened on Saturday.

Under the schemes, they will offer a total of 20,000 units of 120 square yards each at a price of Rs1.5 million.

Plots will be partially developed with finished bedrooms, a lounge and attached bathrooms. House owners may later expand the construction horizontally and vertically, he said.

During the three-day exhibition, which would culminate on Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14, the people interested in the four schemes will be registered.

Later on, 25% of them would be sold the housing units against full payment and the remaining would be allotted the units on partial mortgage financing through balloting, which will be held in December 2017.

Those people who would win a house through balloting would pay interest money in addition to the principal amount to House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) against mortgage financing for a maximum period of 20 years.

Sheikhani said HBFC would not fully finance the projects due to financial constraints. The State Bank of Pakistan and the World Bank would also provide financing as “they have earmarked up to Rs50 billion for low-cost housing projects,” he added.

Seventeen registered members of ABAD are part of the consortium that has initiated the projects. The association aims to increase the number of builders and developers to 50 in the consortium.

“ABAD has undertaken the projects. It will ensure quality development and construction as per defined specifications and standards,” Sheikhani said.

Low-cost govt housing scheme shelved again

He said they would deliver the housing units in three years after balloting.

The builders have acquired and processed land for the projects on the Northern Bypass and Super Highway while land pieces at Hawks Bay and National Highway are being developed.

Later on, such projects would be undertaken in Lahore and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well, he remarked.

Sheikhani revealed that the builders had acquired land from open markets. The government, however, should ensure that they do not charge project approval fee, provide utilities at reduced rates and do not impose taxes.

New projects

The ABAD chairman said the exhibition was aimed at attracting foreign and local investment in the real estate sector close to Rs500 billion.

A Canadian firm has already initiated luxury hotel projects in Islamabad and Karachi with an investment of Rs100 billion.

Besides, the builders would also launch 13-14 other mega projects at an estimated cost of Rs50 billion in different parts of the country next year.

The projects had already been approved by the government as it was not approving new projects for the time being, he clarified.

In the exhibition last year, the association had signed agreements with investors for projects of up to Rs500 billion and also launched projects of up to Rs300 billion in the last one year, said the ABAD chairman.

Some 156 exhibitors, including 23 foreign firms, have set up stalls in six halls of the Karachi Expo Centre.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2017.

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