Jones Lang La Salle saw the Philippine property market as vigorous as ever this year, while Colliers expressed confidence the sector remains strong enough to withstand external headwinds threatening the global economy.
Yet, against this growth potential remains an ominous backdrop of a housing backlog of at least 6.57 million – a number that keeps growing each day as the industry continues to battle the lack of access to affordable credit, incoherent housing policies, over-regulation and bureaucratic red tape.
The Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. or CREBA has, for more than four decades, looked at property development as more than just a business but a mission to provide decent and affordable housing. Because aside from it being a fundamental right that provides every human being stability, security and dignity, housing also plays a key role in reducing poverty and building strong, inclusive communities.
Consistent with its role in nation-building and aligning its efforts with government towards a better housing system, CREBA put together proposed solutions at the conclusion of its recent annual national convention to overcome the major industry growth deterrents in accordance with its 5-point Agenda for Housing.
First, government needs to put its acts together to institutionalize, by means of a new law, the mechanisms for long-term and affordable funds for socialized and economic housing under a Comprehensive Home Financing Program (CHFP) solely devoted to home-buyers’ financing to ensure optimum housing delivery that particularly targets the under-served sectors of society.
Some of our most progressive-minded legislators have taken up the cudgels to put this initiative forward in the form of proposed bills: among them Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senator JV Ejercito in the 17th Congress, and Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez and Congresswoman Micaela Violago in the current Congress.
If approved, the bill will amend related provisions of R.A. 7835 or the Comprehensive & Integrated Shelter Finance Act (CISFA) of 1994, tapping in the process housing fund sources set forth in the SSS, GSIS and PagIBIG Fund charters, as well as the un-used agri-agra funds of banks and a counterpart GAA allocation for informal settlers to bank-roll 500,000 housing units each year for a span of 20 years.
Second, it is about time for a holistic, rational and just allocation of lands thru a National Land Use Policy that accords due respect to existing laws on land use, among them R.A. 7279 as amended by R.A. 10884, P.D. 399 and R.A. 7160.
Third, conflicts and overlaps between the implementation of national and local laws such as the requirement of locational clearance, occupancy permits, fire permits, and the likes, must be eliminated to harmonize how such laws are implemented across all levels of government.
One huge opportunity for this is by upholding the commitment of the Ease of Doing Business Law which sets forth the maximum number of days by which concerned agencies shall process “simple, technical or complex” transactions.
Fourth, the creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) after 27 years in the legislative mill, tasked to implement “a single regulatory system” for housing and real estate development in the country, should usher in a new era where all housing permitting and licensing processes currently vested upon the Local Government Units (LGUs) are fully transferred and centralized under the Housing One-Stop Processing Centers (HOPCs) in the regions.
Finally, government must reconsider any disincentive to housing, particularly the looming imposition of value-added tax for socialized and economic housing purchases come January 2021 under the TRAIN Law, as such would raise property prices beyond the affordability of millions of homeless poor, including the over 15 million Overseas Filipino Workers.
For its part, CREBA will continue to play an active role in helping improve the housing situation in the country by pushing for legislation and policies to ensure that every Filipino will own a decent home and provide a roof above his head.