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Opinion

May 17, 2012
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‘Construction of house difficult for common man’

Opinion

May 17, 2012

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LAHORE: Construction of a house is always an uphill task for the common man but now it will become even more difficult due to growing inflation, law and order situation and economic depression. There is need to move to the vertical housing solution instead of villas and houses pattern as it will cut down the cost of houses and residential areas.
These views were expressed by the participants in the Jang Economic Session on ëDoes construction of house would be easyñ Budget 2012-13í here on Wednesday. The panelists were Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) CEO Momin Agha, economist Dr Qais Aslam, construction expert Khalid Rafiq, DHA Estate Agents chairman Yousaf Chohan, Pakistan Workers Federation chairperson Huma Aziz and a pensioner, Ch Abdul Hameed. The session was hosted by Sikindar Hameed Lodhi and Intikhab Tariq.
Momin Agha said the PLDC was working on the public-private partnership, a new concept in construction sector, while the PLDC wanted to give driving seat to private sector in this regard. He said optimism was required to provide a house to everyone. He said the government was trying to provide cheap land while the PLDC was ensuring construction at the cheapest level to provide housing to the common man.
Dr Qais Aslam said 45 percent of population lived in the urban areas while Lahoreís population had touched 10 million mark and out of which 50 percent lived in the old city. He said the government should encourage vertical housing and announce incentives in the budget for it. He suggested end to housing facilities to bureaucrats and rulers, arguing that they would make favorable policies for construction sector when they would pay the residential cost. He called for imposing a ban on construction of housing schemes on agricultural land.
Khalid Rafiq said the construction of house was never easy since creation of Pakistan while inflation had affected the common man in every era. He said development process had halted in Pakistan while

the country was surviving only with agriculture sector and workers remittances. He said the government could generate employment by spending the PSDP resources on infrastructure development. He said globally, industrial and housing sector got loans on the lowest mark while in Pakistan it was getting loans at 15 to 18 percent mark-up.
He called for budgetary policy support for new towns, small cities and construction sector. Yousaf Chohan said the construction of house was an easy task. He demanded availability of the construction material at control rates and making of price control committees for it. He asked for withdrawal of property tax and transfer fee on three to 10 marla houses, saying the mortgage sector globally got without upfront charges. He said the EOBI fund could be used in low-cost housing schemes. Huma Aziz said the next budget would not bring anything positive for the poor and no relief would be given to the common man. She said it was impossible for the middle class to construct house while the poor could not afford even burial expenditures. She said a government servant could hardly purchase a plot on his retirement while his second or third generation constructed a house on the plot bought by him.
Abdul Hameed said the budget was always a gimmick of numbers while hopes from the government for construction of houses in the budget were irrelevant. He said the poor were worried about their bread and butter while the middle class was rapidly going to the poor segment of the society and the poor were going down even beyond the poverty line. He said the Punjab government should also allocate pensionersí quota in every housing scheme like Ashiana too and allot them houses through balloting.

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