Cautious optimism greets budget
With the declining purchasing power in the economy, low-income Nigerians are already struggling to keep a roof over their heads due to a growing affordable housing shortage.
But 2018 budget by the Muhammdau Buhari administration are bound to make matters worse as a meager N35.41 billion was allocated for the National Housing Programme out of the N555.88 billion for the Power, Works and Housing Ministry.
A cautious optimism last week pervaded the housing industry with practitioners endorsing reluctantly, government’s provisions for the sector and its decision to provide infrastructure.
They expressed worry the thrust of the budget as the sector seems to be relegated to the background with less activities that will rejuvenate the industry next year.
The professionals, who recognized the timeous presentation and appreciable additions in the 2018 budget, were of the opinion that the N35.41 billion allocated for the National Housing out of the combined budgetary provisions of N555.88 billion for the ministry was meagre.
They, however, believe that the budget may be in tandem with the National Housing Policy, which recognised the private sector as the engine for the development and delivery of mass housing.
To them, a well -developed housing industry will further consolidate the nation’s dominance of the West African economy because of the huge domestic demand that could make the domestication of industry profitable.
According to the 2nd vice president, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, with housing receiving the least sum shows that government does not want to participate much in the provision of housing.Nevertheless, Awobodu said, what is required from the minister, who had already identified housing types for the civil servants is implementation of the budget.
According to him, Nigeria’s budget always has implementation challenges. It is one thing for you to budget for a project; it is another thing to make the money available at the appropriate time.
“Every Nigerian that keeps watch with budget control outcome, will tell you that there are a lot of grey areas with budget implementations.“ We tend to have the same problem year in year out. A lot of projects would be budgeted but at the end of the day the quality and quantum of projects executed will be different and not equitable with what was budgeted”, he noted.
Awobodu called for good execution and delivery of such services and projects, saying in many occasions the cabals have hijacked the distribution of the houses.Awobodu further urged the government to partner with the private sector, patronize Nigerian construction companies and avoid awarding contracts based on political patronage.
For the President Nigeria Institution of Architects (NIA), Tonye Braide, the amount can be a good starting point if a good percentage is released to serve as a stimulus fund, which will revolve and be supported with pension funds.
According to him, if the fund is used to create a guarantee fund against which private developers can borrow, the fund will have capacity to produce over 10 times the number of units as opposed to direct funding.
“With the same amount about 30,000 units of housing can be built and Government will still have its N34 billion in tact. The stimulus package will create a housing development value chain that will ignite the labour market and start the process of meeting the targets set for the provision of affordable housing”, he said.
The renowned architect however stressed that if government wants to build ready to live housing for its teeming work force there must be provision for infrastructure.
Beyond, the NIA president wants government to adopt open schemes, while a national workshop be organised to catch the best of ideas.Briade stressed that for housing to be affordable, it has to be mass produced and all components required must be manufactured in Nigeria, since housing is a very big industry which can change the middle level economy and open new vistas.
The project Director, Arctic Infrastructure (AI), Lookman Oshodi, said government‘s focus on the workforce housing in 2018 is a change in strategic direction by prioritizing quick wins that can be achieved within the remaining span of this administration rather than pursuing housing for generality of Nigerians which seems intractable.
The challenge in the workforce housing, he said, cannot be totally resolved through one tranche of budgetary provision as this may only strengthen delivery to senior and middle level staff leaving out the junior workers.
Also, the first vice president Nigerian Institution of Town Planners (NITP), Toyin Ayinde said the effect of the 2017 budgeting provision may not have been visible, but a lot of efforts have gone into trying to develop some form of standardization which should ultimately support mass production. He urged the Federal Government to concentrate its efforts more on reviewing existing policies to see how relevant they still are and how they fit.
He also want government to develop data which includes conducting accurate population census which will be the basis for determining actual housing needs.
– focusing on providing an enabling environment for local governments, corporate organizations, cooperative societies to invest in housing provision;
– probing our cultural mindset and requirements with respect to determining actual desirable housing needs;
– supporting research into construction methodology fit for our level of development that will generate employment for citizens in various aspects of the industry;
– encouraging research into local construction materials for sustainability and providing leverage for the housing industry to develop, grow and mature so that specialization can be achieved.
This , Ayinde said will ultimately affect cost of producing dwelling units positively, thus making housing more accessible
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