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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $435 million in financing for three projects, including the Pakistan Housing Finance project, the Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement project, and the Punjab Affordable Housing Programme.

These projects will expand access to housing finance, particularly for low-income households, improve land tenure rights and facilitate affordable housing developments in urban Punjab.

“Affordable and accessible housing is in high-demand in Pakistan, which is home to over 200 million people and is the most urbanized country in South Asia,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“These projects will contribute to addressing housing needs, particularly for low-income households, by leveraging the private sector and by facilitating access to mortgage options for those who currently cannot access financing to buy a home. They will also strengthen property rights and increase the supply of climate-resilient, affordable housing developments.”

The $85 million additional financing for the Pakistan Housing Finance Project will help expand access to affordable mortgages to increase homeownership among low-income households, including women and informal workers.

WB highlights ‘deficiencies’ in EE&C-2022

The additional financing will scale up the credit risk-sharing facility launched in 2018, to provide partial credit guarantees to banks, in order to incentivise them to lend to borrowers traditionally excluded from commercial financing. This will benefit up to 70,000 first-time homebuyers in the country, who qualify for the Government’s interest rate subsidy program - Mera Pakistan, Mera Ghar (My Pakistan, My Home).

This additional financing of the Housing Finance Project is an integral part of a triad of World Bank operations designed to develop the housing sector in Pakistan; all three of these operations will be delivered in fiscal year 2022.

The WBGs integrated interventions in Pakistan’s land and housing sectors address constraints on both the demand and supply side to deepen the housing market; this is aligned to the GoP’s reform program in the sector. WB’s engagement in Pakistan’s housing sector began in 2018 with the Pakistan Housing Finance Project (the parent project -P162095).

This project sought to improve access to housing finance for low- and middle-income households. Building on the accomplishments of the 2018 operation, the WB will deliver three complementary projects in the fiscal year 2022. First, the Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement project will support the digitisation of land records in urban and rural areas and create a province-wide parcel-based cadastre.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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