The Board of Investments (BOI) recently bared its proposed General Policies and Specific Guidelines to govern the 2013 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) during a Public Hearing held last March 6.
The Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) commends the BOI for retaining mass housing as a priority sector in the 2013 IPP as this will trigger more economic activities to pump-prime the economy. The additional taxes generated by heightened activity in the construction and real estate industries will also lead to increase in the fiscal coffers of the government.
More importantly, we appreciate your genuine concern for the housing sector by allowing it to fulfill its role in helping the industry address the recurring housing backlog estimated to be close to 4 million units, especially for packages that fall under socialized and low-cost housing.
On the specific guidelines for the availment of incentives for mass housing, particularly on developers’ participation in the 20% balanced housing requirement under RA 7279, we recommend that the basis for computation of the compliance project for condominiums be clearly defined to be equivalent to 20% of the net saleable floor area of the main project as opposed to total project cost or gross area for horizontal subdivisions.
To be consistent or at par with existing guidelines on balanced housing as set forth in Resolution No. 890 issued by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) on October 12, 2012 which provides the revised implementing rules and regulations governing Section 18 of UDHA, we propose that compliance projects should be allowed to be located anywhere in the Philippines. While the private sector is aware that BOI promulgates its own set of guidelines as regards BOI-registered projects, we believe that harmonizing them with other government programs on mass housing will work for the best interest not only of the homebuyer-beneficiaries but of both government and private developers as well.
Pending in the legislature is House Bill No. 5446 filed by Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy which seeks to amend major provisions under Section 18 of R. A. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) with the end view of further strengthening the balanced housing program. Specifically, the Bill seeks to require condominium developers to be covered by the balanced housing requirement of law.
Relative to this, CREBA has vigorously pushed for the inclusion as another alternative mode of compliance to balanced housing the development of new socialized residential condominiums or medium-rise building (MRBs) package with a minimum floor area of twenty (20) square meters and a ceiling price of Php850,000 per unit, provided that the project is located in urban areas.
While there exists a socialized housing package of Php400,000 which is duly covered by the end-user loan programs of the Pag-IBIG Fund, the factors of production such as land, labor and materials dictate that such types of development can only be pursued in rural and other less developed areas and can no longer be a viable project in urban centres such as Metro Manila. And while this accounts for a considerable addition to the national housing stock, it does not suffice to answer for the demand for affordable housing, particularly for the working class, in our rapidly developing urban areas nationwide.
To entice the private sector in investing in the production of socialized MRBs, we recommend that they likewise be covered by all the applicable incentives and entitlements for developers under EO 226 and Section 20 of UDHA.
In fine, we echo the voice of our fellow developers that the production and delivery of socialized housing units by the private sector will primarily depend on the existence of a responsive government playing its role as catalyst and enabler under a conducive environment.
Published in the Manila Bulletin March 2013