Since its inception in 1973, the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. or 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.
With the opening of the 16th Congress last July 2013, we closely monitored several major legislative issues that have been our major concerns for many years.
Among them are:
- The National Land Use Bill;
- The Balanced Housing Program Amendment;
- The Department of Housing Bill; and
- The Local Housing Board bill
Lest we start sounding like a broken record, we are again presenting the same issues once more, but the tediousness of the entire legislative processes has often rendered efforts for the passage of these bills to be very difficult if not disappointing. Many law advocates would agree that passing a law usually requires 1 year or more or one entire Congress stint. In fact, CREBA first proposed to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD) as early as 1993. The housing situation has improved very little, if at all, between that time and now and the future of a DHUD is still no more than a proposal.
Allow us then to bring to you once more our key proposals as well as arguments on the bills stated above.
The House Committee on Housing and Urban Development chaired by Rep. Alfredo “Albee” B. Benitez recently created a technical working group headed by Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez to deliberate various bills seeking to amend the country’s balanced housing policy. Below are the salient features of the Chamber’s proposals relative to said bill.
- About the inclusion of condominiums in the balanced housing coverage & reduction of compliance quotas
The proposed coverage of condominiums under the socialized housing quota will only be workable if compliance projects will be reduced to a more reasonable cap of 5% of the net saleable residential area instead of 20%. For subdivisions, however, the reduction of the quota to 15% will make it more realistic and feasible for developers to comply with instead of going around the law for other modes of alternative compliance.
Government records show that actual housing production from compliance projects since UDHA was passed into law 1992 has fallen very short of the targets to meet the annual compounding housing demand.
- Actual socialized housing delivery for the poor
CREBA underscores its position that any alternative mode of compliance to the socialized housing quota must be geared towards actual addition to the housing stock to help ease the supply and demand gap.
These include: (a) Development of new settlements; (b) Joint-venture initiatives between a real estate developer and either the local government units; any of the key shelter agencies; or with another developer; and (c) Development of socialized medium-rise condominium buildings.
- Multi-tiered approach to socialized housing packages
CREBA likewise proposes that a new socialized housing package for MRB’s or condominiums with a minimum floor area of 20 sqm. per unit located in urban areas be created so that they, too, can qualify for tax incentives provided for under Sec. 20 of UDHA.
This is because while there exists a socialized housing package of Php450,000 per house and lot unit, such projects may only be built in rural areas due to the scarcity and high cost of land in the urban areas.
Thus, socialized housing packages must be approached on a multi-tiered basis, with price ceilings determined by HUDCC, and updated every five (5) years in consultation with NEDA.
- Dispensing with the BIR ruling requirement on a per project basis
But the social obligation imposed by law is not without a corresponding obligation on the part of the government. Hence, the superfluous and repetitive requirement for a BIR ruling for every project that is built must finally be dispensed with.
To CREBA’s mind, the additional requirement defeats the very purpose for which the tax incentives were made available to developers, which is to encourage more players to undertake mass housing projects, and thus increase economic activities, mass housing being the major pump-primer of the economy. The additional taxes generated by heightened activity in the construction and real estate industries would also be good for job generation and the fiscal coffers.
Instead, we appeal that a provision in Sec. 20 of UDHA be added whereby BIR shall accept the Socialized Housing Certification issued by the HLURB as the only requirement for the issuance of the CAR and TCL to the Registry of Deeds.
In closing, CREBA offers the legislature collective wisdom and assistance as both public and private sectors pursue a more vibrant and robust housing sector for all.
Published in the Manila Bulletin April 2014