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Developers upbeat on housing sector

Posted on October 14, 2011 06:51:26 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

HOUSING DEVELOPERS are optimistic in the coming years as agencies pledge to adopt measures that will address the shelter backlog.

"We are optimistic in the next years because the policy makers have already recognized the problems, and we are now working for the solution," Manuel C. Crisostomo, chairman of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), said in an interview during the SHDA-HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council) National Housing Developers Convention on Friday.

Heads of various government agencies and legislators assured the developers during the event of efforts to collaborate for the housing sector.

Darlene Marie B. Berberabe, president of the Mutual Home Development Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, said her agency has reduced the number of processing days to 20 from 30 days to mobilize applications.

"We have rationalized the processing days and removed the unnecessary days. That is being implemented now," she said.

Pag-IBIG has also raised the loan cap of developers to P2 billion from P500 million, Ms. Berberabe said.

"Developers need not to go to banks for their housing developments," she said. "And I have told them that if they need more than P2 billion, they just have to alert me and I will raise the matter to the board."

Ms. Berberabe also noted that the housing agencies are drafting revised housing and lending guidelines, even as requirements have been relaxed for overseas Filipino workers who want to purchase a house.

For his part, Eulalio C. Diaz III, administrator of the Land Regulatory Authority, said the agency has adopted measures to hasten the processing of documents.

"We have simplified the technical description by adopting a standard table," he said. "You can see the progress of your application over the Internet."

A barcode system has also been adopted as a complementary move, Mr. Diaz added.

Meanwhile, Cristino L. Panlilio, Trade undersecretary for investment promotion and Board of Investments managing head, vowed to push for housing as one of the investment priorities in the next five years.

"It’s only a year-to-year basis for five years, but I can assure you that every year we will fight for housing that it will be included investment priority plan. That’s because there is still a big demand to be filled," he said.

Based on the HUDCC inventory, the housing backlog is 3.7 million units.

In the same event, Nelson M. Aspe, Bureau of Internal Revenue deputy commissioner, said that income tax holidays for developers selling low-cost housing units had been implemented.

"There are several rulings [on tax exemptions]. It’s just that we have to be strict," he said, citing as an example the value-added tax exemption on the sale of residences not exceeding P2.5 million.

Legislators who attended the event also threw in their support to the sector.

Rep. Rodolfo G. Valencia (1st district, Oriental Mindoro), chairman of the committee on housing and urban development, committed to pass bills that will benefit the housing sector and the homeless, including the creation of a Department on Housing, Planning and Urban Development.

"The Congress will prioritize these bills," Mr. Valencia said.

This was backed by Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. "I can assure you of the continued partnership with shelter organizations to attain and promote human dignity through the promotion of housing especially for the marginalized and the poor," he said.

Last month, SHDA claimed that the stringent procedures in Pag-IBIG application have led to the drop of loan take-outs by 37% or 2.4 billion, compared to the 4 billion monthly take-outs in 2009. -- Cliff Harvey C. Venzon

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