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Real estate investors demand clear-cut policy

Islamabad

May 25, 2019

Islamabad : The only way for an economy to flourish is through implementation of investor friendly policies.

However, recently the investor’s confidence has been badly shaken by overly harsh and arguably unfair measures by the government. Media has been, almost on a daily basis, carrying news of demolished commercial plazas, community centres, marquees and shops. All centres of economic activity, trade and job creation. How does the government then claim to lift the economy out of shambles, ask real estate investors and developers.

Since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took reigns of the federal government last year a tsunami of property demolition drive has started across all major cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. Initially temporary, removable micro establishments were the target of this drive.

Dramatically this drive has taken over permanent commercial establishments with millions of rupees worth of investment sunk and 12-24 months of construction work completed. Investors are going bankrupt, developers shying away from undertaking projects and thousands of labourers are losing their only source of livelihood.

Unfortunately such indiscriminate measures are being increasingly seen as the, government’s attempt to gaining political mileage out of it with no long-term planning. Notices were not issued before demolishing the houses, plazas and other commercial building with settled businesses.

Residents and owners of bulldozed commercial buildings are asking bitter questions from the government and policy makers. If there was anything wrong then why Capital development authority was sleeping and did not stop the construction work rather damaging the building later and people suffering loss of millions? Secondly, why CDA has no proper policy and by-laws to regularise such buildings when we can see few cases where apex court ordered regularization multi-billion commercial project of grand Hyatt?

CDA action is also in full swing in Zone V of Islamabad which is along the main GT road from Rawat to Rawalpindi and damaging the under construction buildings.

While talking to media, Rasheed Ahmed, an owner of under construction plaza said that he did not receive any prior notice or warning if there was any flaws in the building. He also mentioned that CDA is not taking action against already constructed buildings and only targeting the under construction commercial buildings.

According to real estate expert, Mubeen Ali, CDA lacks proper by-laws for commercial buildings in Zone V which is creating a main hurdle. He further said that, such actions from CDA are shattering the investors' confidence and people have stopped investing in real estate to a great level especially overseas Pakistanis when see videos of CDA actions through Social media, they become reluctant to invest their hard earned money in real estate.

While talking to ‘The News’, an overseas Pakistani Mr. Majid who is visiting Pakistan from Germany showed his great concern on such anti-economic actions by the CDA with no second plan or proper guidelines. He told that he was seriously thinking to invest in some commercial project of real estate in Islamabad but after watching the ruthless action by CDA with no prior policy and guidelines forcing him to think otherwise.

Majority of Pakistani’s settled in Western Europe, North America and also in oil producing Arab states play an important role in Pakistan’s economy by investing in the real estate sector.

Overseas Pakistanis annually invest at least $8 billion in local realty sector, given its attractive rate of returns. Overseas Pakistanis are remitting around $18-$20 billion every year out of which an estimated amount of $8 billion to $10 billion is parked in the real estate industry. Real estate is most attractive avenue for foreign inflows.

Construction and real estate account for almost 2% of Pakistan’s overall GDP. The entire sector not only gives way to more employment opportunities, it boosts several raw material and building ancillaries.

Real estate experts demanded that the CDA should come up with a proper policy guidelines for the construction in different zones rather damaging the properties and creating a bad name for the country. Furthermore, the government must frame stringent rules and regulations to safeguard the investment of expats in real estate sector.

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