Rs400b construction projects to be initiated next year

Govt expands Ehsaas cash programme to cover 16.9m families

Our Correspondent July 16, 2020
Photo: File

The government would initiate construction projects worth Rs400 billion in the last quarter (March-June 2021) of the current fiscal year, aimed at reviving the economy and realising the dream of disadvantaged segments of society to own their own houses, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said on Thursday.

Simultaneously, the Centre has also decided to expand the scope of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, raising its budget from Rs144 billion to Rs203 billion, with 16.9 million families to benefit, Faraz told a media briefing in the federal capital.

Faraz said that a project envisaging construction of houses and apartments worth Rs145 billion would be started on October 20. He also told reporters that an additional amount of Rs30 billion had been set aside as subsidy for the Naya Pakistan Housing scheme.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan is laying special emphasis on the uplift of construction sector in order to revive the economy as well as realise the dream of disadvantaged segments of society to own their houses,” the minister told reporters.

“Those building 5-marla houses would be given loans on 5% mark-up whereas for the 10-marla houses, the mark-up rate would be 7%,” he said, adding that the schedule for the repayment of instalments would be within the reach of the low-income groups.

The Information Minister expressed satisfaction over the recent auctions of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) saying that there was an enabling environment for the construction sector in the country.

Faraz spoke to the media after the prime minister chaired a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development, which was attended by the country’s prominent investors and builders.

“The meeting discussed several proposals to boost the construction sector, including holding international roadshows for construction-related projects in order to attract investment from the overseas Pakistanis,” Faraz said.

“The prime minister has now decided to hold the meeting of the committee every two or three days keeping in view the importance of the sector which is both labour and capital intensive,” he said, adding: “The focus of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policies is middle class and poor segments of the society.”

He said the builders and developers and general public should take advantage of the government’s construction policy by December. A one-window operation system, he said, had been devised to reduce the time required for clearance of the documents.

Faraz said the bank lending for the housing sector was less than 1% at present, whereas in neighbouring India, this ratio was over 27%. “An increase in bank lending would revolutionise the housing industry as so far there was no concept of a mortgage in Pakistan,” he remarked.

Speaking about the pandemic situation, Faraz said that the people of Pakistan had not suffered as much as many other countries. “The outbreak of coronavirus has made the government more determined to save the people from problems,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sania Nishtar explained that the government had decided to expand the scope of the Ehsas Emergency Cash programme. “[Its] budget is being increased from Rs144 billion to Rs203 billion,” she said.

“[A total of] 16.9 million deserving families, which almost cover more than half of Pakistan’s population, will benefit from this scheme,” she added. “The distribution of cash assistance will continue till the last deserving family gets the amount.”

The Ehsas Emergency Cash programme is the largest social protection package announced in Pakistan’s history, Nishtar said, adding that the cash assistance was being provided to the deserving families in a transparent manner and beyond political affiliation.



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