Since its inception in 1973, the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) has taken up the cudgels for Philippine real estate and housing on the legislative and policy fronts to shape public and private programs in all income groups particularly for the millions who do not yet have a home of their own.
To this day, CREBA unrelentingly aims for greater focus on housing concerns by government in accordance with a well-planned and holistic approach.
The years that passed were significant for CREBA as we ushered in our fourth decade of history as an organization. Not only was it a time to look back on what we have done but on what we still need to do to further improve the conditions of our countrymen in so far as housing and real estate is concerned.
With the opening of the 16th Congress last July 2013, we closely monitored several major legislative issues that have been our major concerns for a many years.
CREBA has been a staunch supporter of the passage of the bill creating a Department of Housing and Urban Development or DHUD. The proposed Department of Housing Bill aims to address housing in its totality by encompassing four major aspects of land and housing development: finance, production, regulation and administration.
Since shelter is one of the three most basic needs of man, provision of the same should enjoy a priority at least equal to tourism and other government services.
CREBA is also pushing government to create a new socialized housing package for condominiums located in urban areas to address homelessness in key cities all over the Philippines.
RA 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act requires all subdivision developers to build socialized housing equivalent to either 20 percent of the total project area or cost of the main project. There is now a pending bill in Congress aiming to extend the requirement to developers of condominiums.
This amendment will be workable if compliance projects for condominiums will be reduced to a more reasonable quota of five percent, while for subdivisions, it is time to consider a quota of only 10 percent to make it more realistic and feasible for developers to comply with.
Government records show that while actual production in terms of housing units since 1992 when UDHA was passed into law has been meager and way below the targets to meet the annual compounding housing demand.
The additional requirement for a BIR ruling for every project that is built must finally be dispensed with as the certification from HLURB shall suffice as proof that the project is classified as socialized housing.
To CREBA’s mind, this additional requirement defeats the very purpose for which the tax incentives were made available in the first place: to encourage more players to undertake mass housing projects, and thus increase economic activities – mass housing being the major pump-primer of the economy.
On the National Land Use bill, the association is not opposed to the bill in its entirety. For one, we would like the bill to provide a clear definition of lands set aside for housing purposes as embodied in various existing laws, among them R.A. 7279, Presidential Decree 399 and R.A. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
Our country certainly needs a national land use act that will be an important and indispensable policy reference for all local comprehensive land use plans as well as project development plans in all sectors, including housing and real estate.
Published in the Manila Bulletin March 2014