Ahammad Parvej Khan
The government has undertaken a massive initiative to arrange planned habitation for the people in line with its commitment to ensure housing for all by 2030.
As part of the plan, the government has already built 30,744 houses providing Tk 191.96 crore as loans at a 5.5% interest rate, while including 65,710 people in its housing facility programme by constructing 13,142 houses at a cost of Tk 92 crore – between March 15, 2016, and September 2018.
The houses were built between July 2009, and September 2018 for homeless, poor, and lower income segment of people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the national parliament session on Thursday that in order to ensure housing facilities for the people, various departments of her government have undertaken diversified projects.
The prime minister also said the government has completed the construction of 2,399 plots as part of 12 projects, and 919 residential flats as part of five other projects in different districts.
Sources said, there are 3,084 plots that are part of 20 plot projects and 7,079 flats that are part of 18 flat projects, now being built. The government has undertaken a further 16 plot project with 3,017 plots, as well as 19 flat project with 19,918 flats to provide housing facilities for homeless people.
Housing Minister, Engineer Mosharraf Hossain said the housing crisis of the country has to be resolved keeping pace with the growing population, but it will be done creating no harm to agricultural lands.
He stressed constructing high-rise buildings on less areas of land so that cultivable land can be saved. The minister emphasized further enhancing the activities of planned housing by the National Housing Authority (NHA) across the country, by which civic amenities will be developed in remote areas, also and the rush of people to the cities will come under control.
Meanwhile with an aim to provide better housing arrangements at an affordable cost, the government has decided to allocate credit facilities for all the government officers and employees at only a 5 percent rate of interest. The country’s four leading state-owned commercial banks, Sonali Bank Limited, Agrani Bank Limited, Janata Bank Limited, Rupali Bank Limited and the Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Finance to provide housing loan to the government officers and employees at only 5 percent rate of interest.
Finance Ministry sources said the country’s 14 lakh government officers and employees will enjoy housing loan at a simple 5 per cent rate of interest. Actually, the loan was will be disbursed at 9 percent interest rate but 4 percent will be paid by the government.
The decision was taken following the Housing Loan Guideline-2018 for the Government Employees through Banking System”.
A circular was issued in this regard in July this year, mentioning that the government employees will be eligible to apply for the credit facility five years from their jobs being made permanent, and the highest age limit will be 65, to apply for the loan.
Ministry sources said the ceiling for this loan amount will be from Tk 22 lakh to Tk 75 lakh and the highest time limit for reimbursing the amount is 20 years.
Acting Secretary of Finance Division, Abdur Rouf Talukder said it will take at least two years to bring all the government employees under the coverage of this credit facility, but the officials of the ministries that already have come under automation, will be able to apply for this loan from October 1, 2018.
Managing Director and CEO of Agrani Bank Limited, Shams Ul Islam told Bangladesh Post, earlier there was housing loan for public sector employees, but it was limited to some certain level, but now it has been made open to all permanent government employees, and in a very easy and simple condition and interest rate.
“Earlier, the amount was also less, but now it has been increased significantly. Now the banks have idle fund, at the same there are around 15,000 unsold flats, so we will have the opportunity to utilise the fund, and the flat developers will be able to sell their flats, and ultimately it will bring a positive move for the country’s economy,” Shams Ul Islam said.
President of REHAB, the country’s housing sector apex body, Alamgir Shamsul Alamin said that 1003 REHAB member organizations will be highly benefited through the government decision.
Highlighting the housing sector’s role in the economic development and employment generation in the country, the REHAB President said that despite having at least 15 percent contribution to the GDP, the housing sector was finding it hard to survive, and was surviving by facing of lot of hurdles in the recent years.
“Now, if the government’s initiatives like housing loan for public servants, single digit loan interest etc are implemented timely and properly, then it will be easy to overcome the previous loss, and the sector will find a new way to flourish across the country”, Alamin said.
He observed that the recent circular on the housing loan is the reflection of the Prime Minister’s declaration of ‘Housing for All’ within 2030.
Meanwhile, BHBFC has launched 5 new products, increased its ceiling of credit and comparatively low rate of interest and expanded loan facilities all over the country- which will attract the clients and investors of this sector.
BHBFC has also signed credit agreement of Tk. 850 crore with IDB, and it is possible to build 7,976 housing units where housing opportunity for 47,856 persons will be created.