Friday, 21 March 2014

Foreign investment invited for housing as 30% of Yangon houses, squats are in low quality

YANGON—In a bid to boost living standards for the large numbers of Myanmar people who struggle to find adequate housing, the construction ministry is inviting foreign investors to get into the housing business in Myanmar.

“Due to a gradually increasing population rate in Yangon, squatters and 30 percent of Yangon residents are living in low quality homes. The government has decided that low-cost housing projects must be implemented as a solution,” Aye Aye Myint, director for the department of Human Settlement and Housing Development (HSHD) under the construction ministry, told the Myanmar Infrastructure Summit in Yangon on Tuesday (March 18).

Aye Aye Myint said that a total of 36,000 housing units were built between 2005 and 2010. That means the average supply of only 7,200 units per year.

“The actual requirement is 3.5 times that amount. So 30 percent of those being built now are projects of the government, and the rest are being constructed by the private sector. So, we are inviting foreign companies to invest in this sector,” she said.

She added that the greatest need is in the country’s three main cities – Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw—where the population rate is increasing. There are an estimated 6 million people in Yangon, 1.5 million in Mandalay and about 1 million in Nay Pyi Taw.

“As mass migration spreads into urban areas, the population rate of Yangon is as well on the increase. So, many housing services need to be fulfilled,” the director said, adding that the government is currently working on its housing financing mechanism and legal framework.

The reasons people live in low standard housing, said Aye Aye Myint, are the high price of property and the barriers that apartment housing can represent for low income people.

The HSHD and Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) are jointly implementing housing projects in 2013-15. The HSHD is planning to launch seven low-cost housing projects with a total of 11,868 units, seven affordable housing projects with 26,142 units and 37 projects under Public-Private-Partnerships (P3s).

Of a total of 6,141 units, 4,224 are affordable and 1,917 will be built with P3s under the YCDC’s implementation.

Experts say that, despite the increase in low-cost housing projects, property prices remain high for ordinary people. Thus the government needs to seriously consider how to handle this issue.

Some countries have enshrined laws related to housing in their constitutions. Fifty six countries have prioritized housing law in their constitutions. As Myanmar faces an increase in mass migration to urban areas, more development tasks should be carried out in rural areas to solve the issue more effectively, experts say.

source: Eleven Myanmar
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