LAHORE: The Punjab government is considering using interest-free Islamic microfinance model to finance low-cost houses under Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP), The Express Tribune learnt on Saturday.
Punjab Minister for Housing Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed and Akhuwat Foundation Chairman Dr Amjad Saqib discussed the proposal in detail during a meeting on the weekend.
Rasheed highlighted that the government wants to facilitate poor strata of the society by all means.
A large number of people have expressed their keen interest in low-cost and affordable housing project. He asked Akhuwat Foundation chairman to issue Rs500,000 loan to the successful applicants of the NPHP.
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A spokesperson for the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) highlighted that the second phase of the NPHP is underway. So far, the authority has received around two million applications at his registration centres across Pakistan.
To facilitate the maximum number of citizens, he underlined, the government has revised application submission deadline various times and now the final deadline of January 15 is approaching.
He disclosed that remarkable interest was being express by the low-income strata in the scheme. Sharing some application stats, the spokesperson highlighted that around 192,000 residents of slums, over 5,500 eunuchs, 10,000 widows, 4,000 divorcees and around 700,000 skilled and unskilled workers.
He pointed out over 260,000 citizens registered from Islamabad, 225,694 from Lahore, 265,347 from Karachi, 124,884 from Faisalabad, 78,738 from Multan, 70,892 from Quetta, 47,362 from Peshawar and 53,486 citizens registered from Swat.
He reiterated that the NADRA e-Sahulat franchisee network and the website is open for registration. Citizens can register for own roof after making payment of Rs250 at any NADRA outlet.
Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the second phase of the NPHP in July 2019 after tremendous public response during the first phase.
Dr Saqib said the foundation will soon start awarding loans for the scheme following cooperation of the federal government.
Akhuwat Foundation is an internationally acclaimed not-for-profit organisation working on various welfare project in different social sectors. It has served over four million families by disbursing over Rs100 billion small loans with the help of over 90,000 generous donors and around 8,000 volunteers. It is also running various educational programs, clothes bank, transgender support programme, health clinics and cornea bank.
The Punjab government has already approved Rs500 million for the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency (PHTPA) for swift execution of the NPHS, a flagship low-cost housing project of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
Recently, presiding over a high-level meeting Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar reviewed the progress of the NPHS project. He directed officials concerned to remove teething problems in swift execution of the project. He asked them to keep in mind the financial conditions of common citizens while chalking out housing policy for the project.
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Attention should be paid while constructing small houses in the province, he maintained.
The government has already completed the balloting process in various districts and donor block of the NPHS Renala Khurd is being constructed. Foreign investors have expressed their keen interest in the project.
Investors from China, Turkey, Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are in contact with the government for construction of low-cost houses under the NPHP.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2020.
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