BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Fashola partners finance ministry, others to reduce housing deficit

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says his ministry is working with ministries of finance, budget and national planning to lower interest and lending rates to reduce housing deficit in the country.

Fashola made the assertion at the third edition of Lafarge Africa Plc Quarterly webinar – Concrete Ideas.

It is a platform for deliberation on issues, policies and developments shaping Nigeria’s construction, infrastructure and housing sectors.

The theme of the webinar was: “New Solutions for Nigerian’s Urban Housing.”

The minister, who spoke as the Special Guest of Honour, said the government would ensure long term financing to reduce the housing deficit in the country.

He said housing was a commodity, which the private sector could leverage to increase their entrepreneurial skills to deliver.

“I’m happy to observe that in the last four years at least, the footprints of private sector in the real estate is increasing.

“What government can do to strengthen that space is to use its fiscal and monetary policies muscles to make it even more prolific to play by bringing down the rates – interest and lending rates.

“Government should ensure long tenure financing and these are conversations I’m having with my colleagues, the Minister of Finance, budget and national planning,” he said.

Fashola added that houses of assemblies of states and attorney generals must rise up and intervene on behalf of their residents by way of rent control.

He noted that housing must be discussed along the terms of ownership and rental.

“Where you have people asking citizens to pay three years’ rent in advance for salaries earned monthly in arrears, there is a mismatch there; housing will never be affordable and the bulk of property do not belong to the government but private citizens,” Fashola said.

He urged the attorney generals to get creative through legislation to solve the problem.

According to him, Nigeria needs to redesign its building method for those with economic power to demand and consume.

The minister debunked claims that Nigeria had a housing deficit of between 17 million and 22 million, saying the claim was unrealistic as there were empty houses all over the major urban centres.

He said the Federal Government was perfecting plans to ensure the next census would include home ownership to ascertain the country’s housing deficit figure.

He noted that housing deficit was an urban problem, and that land was a very important component in addressing housing problems in the country, yet he said the Federal Government did not control land but states.

Also speaking, Lafarge Africa Chief Executive Officer, Mr Khaled El Dokani, said the Concrete Ideals platform was for strategic discussions of critical and tropical issues in the area of construction and other sections of its value chain.

Dokani said the commitment of the Federal Government and its agencies to encourage private sector involvement in critical policy formation could not be overemphasised.

“Today’s event signals a call for all key stakeholders within the sector to work together and find lasting solutions to Nigeria’s urban housing issues,” he said.

He said the company would remain committed in providing building solutions through innovative products for economic growth and development.

Miss Amaka Nwaokolo, founder, Blue Tower House, said access to finance was vital in solving housing problem.

Nwaokolo urged the government to provide affordable finance to real estate players to solve housing issues in the country to ease the burden that would be passed to end users. (NAN)

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