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ISLAMABAD: The government has stated that the banks have been instructed to dedicate five percent (Rs 330 billion) of their portfolio for housing sector and asked the investors to avail tax incentives and relaxation of no question about source of income would be asked as these are time bound up till December 31, 2020.

Addressing a news conference on Sunday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz and Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing Authority Lt-Gen Anwar Ali Hyder (R) said that banks have been instructed to dedicate five percent of their portfolio for housing sector to provide finances/mortgage as 40 industries directly linked to the construction sector could help revive the economy. He added that the construction industry was also affected by the corona virus and the government has been making efforts to create for job opportunities.

Shibli Faraz said that Prime Minister Imran Khan few days before himself shared with the people through media the measures being taken by the government to make sure that the biggest problem of the people to have their own houses is resolved. He said that the most of the people could not afford to construct their own house.

The minister said that the government has been serious for the success of the housing industry in the country and prepared a comprehensive programme in consultation with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Banks usually do not lend finance/mortgage for housing sector in Pakistan and the government instructed the banks to allocate a percentage of their portfolio for construction industry and dedicate Rs 30 billion to provide subsidy on first 0.1 million units.

Additionally, he said that tax incentives have been provided and no question would be asked about source of income. We urge the investors to avail this opportunity because these incentive whether in the form of tax or source of income would be available till December 31, 2020, he added. The minister said that the SBP and FBR would facilitate the people and few things for the housing scheme were being given final touches.

General Hyder said that the government wanted to create housing sector at a big scale and making efforts to facilitate the market for which a comprehensive planning was required by removing hindrances for builders and developers as well as individuals who wanted house.

He said that there were three areas - tax issues, availability of finances and to simplify cumbersome approval regime. The issue of taxes was resolved and fixed tax regime has been introduced with considerable reduction in tax rates and unexplained wealth was also taken care of till December 31, 2020. He said that there were two issues how to make available financing to the construction sector property gain tax was abolished and Rs 330 billion would be availed to the builders developers as well as mortgage at 5 percent and 7 percent for five marla and ten marla house. Sharia compliance model is also available for the consumers.

Another issue, he said, was of procedure required for approval of map etc and committee has been formed namely National Coordination Committee on Housing and Development to simplify the approval procedure. One window digital portal has been introduced in Punjab and would soon be made operational.

He said that Provincial housing authority, federal government housing authority and Naya Pakistan housing authority would construct 0.1 million houses and provide subsidy of Rs 0.3 million on low cost houses. The purpose is to create an environment for the market so that the people could come forward and make investment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020