Nambawan Super has come forward with its comments to the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) calling on relevant authorities to consider among others, the establishment of a National Housing Policy.
This is in light of the housing industry review conducted by the ICCC to gather views and find solutions to the current housing crisis in the country,
Nambawan Super is one of the biggest owner and developer of properties in the National Capital District.
Managing Director, Leon Buskens said there was an obvious lack of an overarching ‘National Housing Policy’ to holistically address the housing needs of the country and this has resulted in state of condition that we are in today.
Mr Buskens said while some employers and institutions like Nambawan Super were working on being part of the housing solution through relatively small housing roll out programmes, more could be achieved through a collaborative and sustained platform such as the National Housing Policy framework.
He said the policy should be seen to be connected with a strategy that would cover the following broad principles:
- A national housing vision and goals;
- Linkage with our National Constitution and housing as a basic human right;
- Institutional and employer arrangements;
- Urban squatter settlement areas;
- Funding and credit; and
- Housing support ( land, infrastructure, service standards)
Mr Buskens said the policy should also restrict non-citizens to acquire only new stock of housing, as was the standard in many other countries such as in
He said the fundamental issue was a supply and demand of houses, where the gap had significantly widened and would get worse.
“The restriction in a way will encourage and stimulate the development of new housing stocks and help reduce some of the market distortions going on of highly inflated prices,” Mr Buskens said.
“We suggest that a ‘Foreign Investment Review Board’ under the supervision of Investment Promotion Authority be set up to independently perform this task.”
Mr Buskens said the National Housing Corporation should be overhauled and reformed to truly fulfil its mandate of annually rolling out houses across the country for the low to medium income segment of the market and that the direct influence of Government be removed from the NHC Board to allow management appointments to be linked through an independent regulator for corporate governance adherence and policy direction.
Commenting on undeveloped land, Mr Buskens emphasised the management of undeveloped land must be publicly re-tendered strictly under improvement covenants conditions.
“This is to avoid the many individuals/companies who have no direct development capacity and acquire titles to large land blocks such as the Urban Development Lease (UDL) with the intention to selling off the land at highly inflated prices which already impedes on any business case for housing developments,” he said.
He said there were impediments to the construction of affordable houses as evident in the high cost of infrastructure, civil, design, utility services and the slow response from regulatory services for certification.
In addition the high taxes imposed on import of building materials, thus the need to implement tax concessions for developers based on volume and funds invested must be considered.
Mr Buskens said with the current tax exemption on low cost housing in which IRC defines low cost housing to be at K75, 000, this must also be reviewed up to K150, 000 – K200, 000 so that this will in turn assist members of superannuation funds to be able to access their accumulated interest on top of their 100% contributions without being taxed.
He said lending by banks and financial institutions had improved with longer-term repayments such as BSP’s 25 years repayment for home loans, the loan term duration should gradually move to 30-40 years.
Mr Buskens also suggested for governmental assistance to be given to employers who have home ownership schemes in place to lessen the burden of the costs involved in the schemes through some form of tax relief or incentives.
In his comments on controlling settlement areas in cities and towns, Mr Buskens said some thought should be given to identifying land on the outskirts of the city/town boundaries which could be subdivided and allocated to whole families who reside in current settlement areas.
“Proper planning of land usage for settlements is needed to control the spread of settlements and people who reside in them,” he added.