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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

(The Edge Financial Daily) ‘States should offer land for affordable housing’

BY WONG EE LIN

KUALA LUMPUR: State governments should offer up their land for development of affordable houses, said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin in Parliament yesterday.

This is under a new public housing policy which will be rolled out by September, she said, and will not affect the pricing of affordable housing or compliance cost.

“The chief ministers have the responsibility to ensure that the people can live comfortably. So [we] will come out with a policy where the state governments should offer their land that is spacious enough and with enough infrastructure around the land,” she said.

Zuraida said the ministry will also be working closely with Bank Negara Malaysia to allow flexible loans and interests.

In a press conference later, she said with the support from state governments in supplying land for public housing, the federal government would have a higher budget to develop the surrounding infrastructure.

“Currently we have done 127 projects [in terms of public housing], of which [land for] 27 of them was supplied by the state governments, hence we are able to develop the infrastructure surrounding these projects,” she said.

Zuraida said this will be part of the new National Housing Policy that the federal government is about to announce by September this year.

While the policy may not make state governments compulsorily supply public housing land, Zuraida stressed that it is also the states’ responsibility to take care of their people’s welfare.

“So if they don’t give the land, we would not be giving the housing. We think that the state governments do have a responsibility to take care of their own people,” she said.

Earlier in Dewan Rakyat, Zuraida also said the main aim of expanding the units under the People’s Housing Project to 990 sq ft each is to enhance the comfort of the bottom 40% (B40) income group by giving them a bigger space.

She was replying to a question from Permatang Pauh member of parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar, who wanted to know the justification of expanding the units and the implication for their price.

“We noticed that a lot of people under the B40 category have bigger families, and the existing public housing only provides about 650 sq ft to 700 sq ft, so we thought a bigger space would be more reasonable,” she said.

“In terms of construction cost, we are studying it now. So far, public housing would cost about RM195,000 per unit and we are looking into ways to cut wastage and encourage the state governments to provide land for public housing, so we can save on land cost while building better housing for our people,” she said.