The Senate and House committees on housing and urban development and the Department of Finance outlined their agenda to resolve issues faced by the housing sector at the October 29 Philippine Housing and Real Estate Summit held by CREBA in celebration of its 49th founding anniversary.
Sponsored by Vista Land, Boysen Paints, the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), DMCI Homes, Fasttrack Solutions and Sure Panel, the event saw a record turnout of attendees from the various sectors involved in real estate and housing buoyed by the prospect of the looming revitalization of the industry.
Keynoting the event, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Resettlement, said that the real estate and housing industry is in a good position to lead the country out of the twin crises of the housing backlog of 6.8 million units and the economic woes arising from the COVID pandemic.
Reporting that the industry generated nearly P126 Billion in revenues in the 2nd quarter of 2021 alone, the Senator said that without a doubt, the industry offers a significant multiplier effect that can expedite the country’s economic recovery.
On the other hand, Representative Francisco “Kiko” Benitez, chair of the House Committee on Urban Development and Housing, said that while the housing needs are increasing, housing production is low and slow.
The Congressman cited price inflation of construction materials, rising land values, land use controls and building standards as some of the issues adversely affecting housing supply, while the COVID pandemic has severely affected housing affordability as many families have crossed over the poverty threshold.
He said that in the 19th Congress, his committee has already passed the In-City Housing Bill and is deliberating the Sustainable Cities Bill. The twin bills are in response to the sustainable development goal and urban agenda of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that the new administration has committed to intensify its investment in public infrastructure and maintain infrastructure spending at 5% to 6% of the GDP annually, in order to drive economic activity, job creation and ultimately the development of sustainable and livable communities.
The Secretary said that the administration will continue to strengthen the pillars of support for the growth of housing and real estate in the country, citing the Property Valuation Reform Bill as an instrument to boost investor confidence in the property sector.
He also said that the DOF is leading efforts to improve the bureaucratic efficiency of real property tax collection.
On the operational aspects, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), represented by Undersecretary Garry V. De Guzman, presented its plan to construct one million houses every year for 6 years, and improve home loan affordability by offering a preferential rate of 1% and a social housing amortization schedule of only P1,912 per month for 30 years.
The event also featured presentations by the development planning sector, the World Bank Group, and the hotel industry.
Dr. Nathaniel von Einsiedel, leading urban and environmental planning expert, presented opportunities for the real estate sector in adopting Transport Oriented Development (TOD) strategies that take advantage of the government’s ongoing transport infrastructure development program.
Part of the strategy is to incentivize resilience by activating financing through its financial partners, directly investing in the property sector through IFC’s own balance sheet, and fostering an enabling environment of supportive government policies.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA), led by its president Arthur M. Lopez represented by Executive Director Benito C. Bengzon, Jr., reported on trends and developments in the Philippine tourism and hospitality industry in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Lopez reported that foreign arrivals in the Philippines was 1.7 million from February to October 13, 2022, and that the return of tourism to pre-pandemic levels will be realized only in 2024