Knocks for N76b housing budget as operatives seek mortgage reform
A feeling of frustration and tone of displeasure pervaded the sector last week, following the paltry sum allocated by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to the Ministry of Works and Housing in the 2021 budget.
The government had proposed N404 billion for the ministry, while N76.4 billion was allocated for capital projects, out of which N188 billion was for overhead cost and N5 billion for personnel cost .
Although, the allocation represents the highest capital spending in the total budget of N13.8 trillion, the reality emerging from the breakdown has cast doubts on the sincerity of government to meet the 17 million housing deficit.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had stated at the Joint National Assembly Committee on Housing that the N76 billion allocation was “unrealistic”, sequel to the ministry’s debts to local contracts worth N69.9 billion.
In reaction, professionals also described the allocation as grossly inadequate.
The President, Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN), Dr. Victor Onukwugha, said the budget will definitely not be able to address the housing gap, stressing that the amount will only build 25,333 units, if each construction cost is pegged at N3 million per unit.
He said government should provide enabling environment by guaranteeing construction finance and repayment as well as ensuring such funds are not diverted or politicised but channelled properly to fund affordable housing at appropriate pricing
A Professor of Estate Management, University of Lagos, Timothy Nubi, said until Nigeria begins to address housing needs of those who have regular income through mass production as every other country does, there wouldn’t be progress in the sector.
According to him, the government has no business with direct construction of houses. He asked, why should government come out to say they are still owing contractors?
“Housing is just like every commodity, the industry should be structured in such a manner that people can use their salaries to pick a mortgage. It’s only in Nigeria that people build houses.
“All over the world people buy houses once you begin to work and could raise 10 per cent of the total value of a house.”
Nubi, who is also the Director, Centre of Excellence of Urbanisation and Habitable Cities said government needs to create a conducive environment that makes importation of building materials and other components easy for developers at affordable prices.
Corroborating Nubi, the President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Sir Emmanuel Wike said, the government should use N76billion to provide infrastructure and allow a working mortgage system for the low and medium income cadres.
“We should go back to the site and services scheme where the government acquire an area, put the infrastructure, allocate the lands to real estate developers who will develop the properties for Nigerians to take over.
“Alternatively, there should be cooperative society whereby government can use as a platform to access the low and medium income earners.”
Government, he stated shouldn’t go into direct housing provision by borrowing money to finance a housing that can’t work. Rather, it should provide infrastructure through which it can collect revenue through property taxation and ground rent from those that would build and stay in those houses.
Wike also urged the government to provide incentives for the housing operators like other sectors, in form of tax holidays. He said such move would encourage more developers to get involved in housing development.
The President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Kunle Awobodu advised federal government to deliver ongoing projects as a means to alleviate accommodation problems in the country.