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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

(NST) Affordable housing: '1m - unit shortage by 2020'


THE Klang Valley is the fastest-growing area in Malaysia, but the population boom has brought a surge in housing costs, which have become an increasing worry for all stakeholders, said experts.

Bank Negara Malaysia deputy governor Shaik Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour said affordable housing had become a complex issue, with the gap between demand and supply expected to widen to a shortage of one million units by 2020 if proper measures were not put into place.

Khazanah Research Institute managing director Datuk Charon Wardini Mokhzani said affordable housing was an issue only in big cities and for the rich.

“In other states like Melaka, Terengganu and Kelantan, their No. 1 problem is not the need for housing, but the cost of schooling or food,” said Charon.

The experts said the government had introduced affordable houses and financing initiatives to increase the supply side and also came up with cooling measures to curb speculations and stabilise prices.

They said the shortage of affordable houses and high prices was instead due to the outdated affordable housing delivery system.

While all stakeholders, including the private sector, should take the blame in the never-ending issue, these experts said technology, not limited to the use of Industrialised Building System (IBS), could be the silver bullet solution to help increase the supply of affordable houses and reduce costs.

“There is the government’s intervention in providing affordable houses in the market, but the delivery system of these houses among market participants should be improved,” said Charon.

He favours market-based solutions in addressing the affordable housing issue, citing China-based Country Garden as an example, which reclaimed and built a hotel in Forest City, Johor, in less than nine months.

“The way we build houses has not changed much for more than a decade. Technology has changed ever since. With market-based solutions, for example IBS, we could develop a whole new market for Malaysia.”

Other than that, the use of Big Data would also provide the public the access, analyses and information related to housing affordability.

“When you invest in the stock market, you have the Securities Commission to safeguard the investors’ interest. You can collect data before you invest, for example, prospectus. But in the property market, there is none.”

The use of technology could improve the efficiency in the planning approval process for faster delivery of affordable housing.

National Housing Department director general Datuk Abdul Rahim Ishak said there was a process prior to physical development that should be looked into.

“Last year, 15 housing projects could not take off due to the delivery system involving local councils.

“Some states take more than one year for planning approval. We should expedite the process so that we can deliver affordable houses to the people sooner,” he added.