Earlier this year in April, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan launched Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and promised to construct 5 million housing units in the span of five years. Also known as Prime Minister Housing Scheme or Imran Khan Housing Scheme, it is essentially a low-cost housing project that aims to provide affordable houses to the people from lower and middle-income backgrounds. Mr Iftikhar Durrani, who serves as a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, recently sat down with Zameen.com to discuss the government’s flagship housing program.
Mr Durrani, who heads the Central Media Department of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, also served as an Advisor on Communication for the Education Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013. Moreover, he was also the CEO of the National Trust for Population Welfare and has worked with a number of national and international non-profit organizations.
Here’s what Mr Durrani had to say about Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP) during the first instalment of Zameen Interviews – a new impactful series of one-on-one video interviews launched by the leading real estate portal in Pakistan.
“Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme is the future of Pakistan. This is the sector that has always been neglected in Pakistan,” said Mr Iftikhar Durrani.
Do you think the idea of 5 million houses is merely political rhetoric?
“It is our first election. This is a reformist government and it will do what it has claimed. We make hard decisions because we have made promises. There should be a belief that we are conducting politics of welfare,” Mr Iftikhar Durrani responded. “Allama Iqbal, during his speech in Allahabad, said the foundation of this country will only be achieved when we create our own politics and culture. In 70 years, there is only one leader, Imran Khan, who knows what Allama Iqbal has said.”
He further said that Prime Minister Imran Khan “does the politics of welfare.”
“He made Shaukat Khanum. Tell me, would you go ask for donations for a poor? How difficult is it for him to go to people, ask for donations and continue to do that for life just so he can help the poor,” Mr Durrani continued. “Now, after becoming the prime minister, do you think he would do politics of rhetoric? This is a very strange thing.”
How is the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme different from the previous government housing schemes?
“We had a very consultative process because it was written in our manifesto that we will give 5 million houses,” Mr Iftikhar Durrani answered. “Imran Khan’s personality is not like that of a conventional politician. He is a reformist and the position he withholds, he has to take it forward. For this purpose, he consulted with stakeholders. During the past five decades, the many promised to provide housing but none of the governments had any model. Meanwhile, we devised a methodology while staying in the jurisdiction, because of which you are able to provide a house to the poor.”
He said a lot of homework had to be done for this purpose.
“A lot of homework was done because naturally, you are creating authority through the government processes, creating its rules and financial rules, because of which the major focus was there,” he added.
Will the influx of 5 million houses create a surplus of housing units in the market?
“Right now, precisely 10.12 million houses are required in Pakistan… Till date, no housing society has been built in a rural setting. We are catering to rural settings too. Similarly, they are in peri-urban and urban areas as well,” Mr Iftikhar Durrani said. “So, as such, no market will crash. You are just facilitating. Business is there and it is working.”
Peri-urban area refers to a region located adjacent to an urban area or a city.
How would this project rehabilitate the people living in the slums?
“It is defined and is also a part of the Prime Minister’s vision. It includes high-rises and we will give proper ownership to them [the poor], and along with that, the land will be given to the developer for development,” Mr Durrani said on Zameen Interviews. “So, it is a two-pronged strategy that you involve the private sector, which will build houses for them. It is an international model, which has been carried out in Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey.”
Do you agree that the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme is a rebranding on previous government schemes?
“We are a society that does not research or study a lot. When you study less and do the least research, then you will have these kinds of discussions,” Mr Iftikhar Durrani responded. “Now, tell me, if a certain law never existed in the country for the past 70 years, how is it possible to draw a comparison with it? It is like comparing apples to oranges. In a country where there was no law, they tried to make a society. So how can you compare it with a law that was implemented and being practised? How can you draw a comparison between these two?”
He added, “One sector is non-regulated by the government while the other sector is regulated and facilitated by the government. They are two different sectors and two comparative models.”
What hurdles in the legal framework does the housing sector face in Pakistan?
“Eviction and foreclosure laws,” Mr Durrani replied.
Foreclosure Law is a legal process that allows banks to take possession and sell a borrower’s property when the borrower has defaulted on the loan.
“In Pakistan, they were not embedded in the existing laws. Hence, there was no opportunity for the poor to make any purchases. If a poor individual does not have money, how will he buy a house? First of all, you will have to create the facilitation that those rules should be present with which the banks will provide you with money because Pakistan is a cash-starved country.”
The Special Adviser to the Prime Minister also talked about NOCs and how people were unable to receive them together.
“You were unable to receive NOCs together and it used to take two to three years to build societies. The second reason, there were no eviction or foreclosure laws. The third reason was that the banks were not giving mortgages,” he explained. “Pakistan is the country where mortgages contribute 0.25 per cent to the GDP. It is around 11 per cent in India, 33 per cent in Malaysia and more than 80 per cent in Europe and the United States. It means you have the financial opportunity available for mortgages. This is the issue of Pakistan.”
What are the various financial and structural models of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme?
“You should build [housing societies] on the government land that is available. Either the Federal Government Housing Authority or the provincial government can build it. Second [model] is the private builder. A private builder has private land and will be building private houses. [The builder] is given banking facilities so that the people can buy it. Third [model] is in which you are providing interest-free loans,” said Mr Iftikhar Durrani. “So, there are two, three models that we are working on. It’s not just one model.”
What is the instalment structure of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme?
“In the proposed law, you can give a mortgage for 12.5 years. Unless the law is not amended, you will do your calculation on 12.5 years. Once the law is amended and enhanced, then automatically your instalment will be reduced,” he said during the interview. “The yardstick of the instalment is less than your rent. It will be like this. The rent you are paying will be equivalent to or lesser to it so that you can easily pay it off.”
Who will have the ownership of the house in the NPHS?
“Ideally, it is owned by the bank. Once the mortgage is paid, the person would attain the right of ownership,” Mr Durrani responded on Zameen Interviews.
To what extent do you believe that this initiative can improve the economy of Pakistan?
“You assign one force to dig a trench and the other to fill it. So, both will get paid and your economy will boost,” he said. “This is the sector that involves almost 40 industries. There is no bigger sector than this which can boost the economy. This is the flagship project of Tehreek-e-Insaf and a fortune-turner project for Pakistan.”
Do you believe the government will be able to achieve the target?
“Imran Khan is the only politician whose biggest quality is that he is very assertive. You will slowly see how good Imran Khan’s management skills are,” Mr Iftikhar Durrani answered. “A person who can make Shaukat Khanum after being repeatedly told that it is not possible to build a cancer hospital on donations, who was told free treatment is impossible. Imran Khan has a very firm belief in Allah, and Allah has always helped him. Although we are facing trouble, I am sure that we will come out of it.”
He further said, “I am hopeful that these 50 lakh houses will be built and whatever [the prime minister] has said will be achieved as well.”
What message would you give to the general public?
“I can say this with certainty that the genuine supporter of Imran Khan knows that he is capable of converting the impossible into possible. People believe in Imran Khan. He might be facing some trouble but he will get out of it,” Mr Durrani concluded. “The future of Pakistan seems bright and he will fulfil all of his promises.”
You can also watch the latest interview with Mr Iftikhar Durrani in the video above.
Although the affordable housing project is currently in its nascent stages, the first two phases for its registration have already been launched. The deadline for the online registrations for Naya Pakistan Housing Program is October 15, 2019.
Stay tuned to Zameen Blog, the top real estate blog in the country, for the latest updates about Naya Pakistan Housing Program and other low-cost housing schemes in Pakistan. You can also catch the latest Zameen Interviews on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.
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