MPs consider constituency housing scheme

…as a new measure to cure deficit

Samuel Atta Akyea, (Minister for Works and Housing)

Minister for Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea, is courting the support of colleague Members of Parliament (MPs) to enable government put up high-rise buildings across the 275 constituencies in the country.

According to Mr. Atta Akyea, it is a proposal he has put forward, and he has already discussed the move with some of his colleague MPs.

“I wrote to all the Members of Parliament to give me spaces in their constituencies [for the construction of high-rise residential accommodation]. All over the 275 constituencies, if we have the benefit of high-rises [buildings] where salaried workers who depend on the government exchequer live – places that have good playgrounds, teachers and nurses among others – it will help address the current challenges.

“This will be a very good way to solve some of the problems and also stem the tide of rural-urban migration, so this is where we are,” he said when he appeared at the Public Accounts Committee sitting at Parliament House in Accra.

He also maintained that it is vital for the country to aim at providing more housing units in order to reduce the exorbitant prices charged by developers.

“The major fundamental issue is the supply dimension of housing units in the country – because when there is scarcity people cash-in and demand rent advances which are far above the income levels of those in the lower-income brackets. This is the challenge we are facing.

“So, if we want to address it from a realistic point of view, we should increase out housing stock; and if we have so many for our workers to live in, and some to own them, then we will not be in the hands of developers who ask for very exorbitant rent advances; and there is legislation which has been violated for so long…that is, the old rent act.

“The old rent act stipulates that you cannot exact rent advance beyond six months and it is a stipulation of law; and sometimes the law suffers violations because of the reality on the ground,” he added.

Unconfirmed data suggest the country has a housing delivery deficit of about 1.7 million units, which is projected to reach about 2 million by the end of 2018.

Pragmatic policies, many believe, are required to reduce the deficit and enable more Ghanaians to access decent accommodation.

Already, government has indicated that it is working on a GH¢1bn housing fund, together with a number of banks, to provide cedi-rated mortgages.

The Finance Minister said government sees the provision of affordable housing as being key to providing social equity and anchoring a firmer social contract between citizens and government.

Analysts have argued that the housing fund, together with a well-regulated pensions industry, should enable most workers to use their tier-2 and 3 contributions to acquire homes.

According to the national housing policy report, 2015, rapid population growth, and in particular increasing urbanisation, has made shelter one of the most critical challenges currently facing the country. Increasing overcrowding, declining quality of housing and access to housing services characterise much of the housing stock challenges in Ghana.

The housing challenges in Ghana are therefore of two types: the quantity and quality of housing.

As empirically depicted in the Ghana Housing Profile of 2011, the situation of quantitative and qualitative challenges in the housing sector is very serious and requires urgent action.

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