DRIVING HOUSING SECTOR AS ENGINE OF GROWTH IN BALOCHISTAN

SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER
Nov 12 - 18, 2007

Housing sector is the economic engine of growth. A number of industries like engineering, construction companies etc are dependent on this sector. During a period of last five years, housing boom has been witnessed in the countryís real estate sector with an anticipated growth of 25-30 percent. Apart from different construction activities like commercial, hotels, low cost housing and the high-class construction has started in the country. Valuation and declaration of property are the two major issues pertaining to taxation in the real estate sector. The CBR is dealing with these issues and trying to resolve them under a long-term policy.

Housing and construction are the major drivers of growth. This sector can become an avenue for creating employment opportunities in Balochistan. The housing sector holds strong backward and forward linkages with other industries. No doubt, its growth unleashes growth in these related sectors. The construction of houses gets at least 40 other industries involved creating enormous job opportunities for the people.

The province still lacks a decent living in well-built houses for its people. It was ever denied housing schemes and hence the people of this province could not find the employment opportunities. It is worth remembering that previous Nawaz Sharif government could not launch the housing schemes for the complex and time-consuming process the housing sector development involves. Hence the proposed housing schemes under Nawaz government ultimately failed.

The rapid growth of slums in major townships of Balochistan including Quetta amply reveals that there has been a complete ban on housing. The unplanned constructions in slum areas created plethora of problems like environmental mismanagement, filth and garbage, out-flowing drains, poor sanitation, congestion, development of unhygienic and hazardous practices and rise in crime rate. The power theft, contamination of water, illegal connections of Sui gas, electricity and water developed as culture in these slums. The corrupt officers of the relevant department made quick millions for providing illegal water and power connections to the people of slum areas. Slums went on increasing. There was no check and hence major townships in the province are the slums, to say precisely.

Presently, Balochistan government is working on a plan for regularizing the Katchi Abadis in different districts of Balochistan including the provincial capital Quetta. The government is giving the ownership rights to the residents of Katchi Abadies in the province.

The present government had launched ëSasti Bastií housing scheme in Quetta to provide the government employees their own houses at easy loans. It announced such arrangements with State Bank enabling the people to get loans for building or buying houses. It is highly expected that availability of loans on easy terms would result in development of this sector. A few years ago, the government had announced a program in whereby government employees would be provided guarantees to obtain loans for housing from House Building Finance Corporation. For the development of housing sector, government decided to provide incentives such as 25% reduction of excise duty on cement, elimination of excise duty on wires and cables, increase in limit of tax exemption on mark-up, and improvement in lending ratio and increase in maximum limit of loan.

Gwadar is currently the focus of speculative trade in real estate that has touched almost a frenzy level. The housing schemes and high-rise construction on commercial plots have been planned like those in Dubai, meeting the international standards. The government has planned to establish hotels, motels, playground, boating club, theme parks, Marino and other recreation projects in the port city. Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) has reportedly so far issued no objection certificates (NOCs) to 60 private housing societies.

The local people were apprehensive about their legitimate interests during implementation of Gwadar Master Plan. Of course, the idea of resettlement of the entire town and quick shifting is unpopular among the residents. In other words, they are not prepared for the sudden changes in the status quo. According to an estimate, Rs. 7.4 billion will consume in the process of resettlement and shifting the old town. The government has however refuted the impression that implementation of Gwadar master plan would affect the legitimate interests and rights of local people. The main aim of the plan is to ensure the integrated development of the port and town. In existing scheme of the things, the urban area is constrained by the land available in the headland. These areas have limited opportunities for development as compared to the mainland.

Gwadar master plan aims at providing the equitable development of Gwadar by preventing haphazard urbanization and setting aside land for different sectors and locations through balanced allocations. The people of Balochistan are apprehensive about issue of land ownership in Gwadar. There are stories that poor land-holders are being deprived of their property for a song of development. The government should allow leasing rather than outright sale of the land, with rentals flowing to the local people.

Government must develop low cost but decent housing scheme equipped with all vital civic facilities for the local people, who are at present living in semi-pucca houses in many districts of the province. Uplift in the living standard of local people would help in winning their confidence and making them partners in development and prosperity.

Table: 1
HOUSING QUALITY & HOUSING SERVICES

ROOF RCC/RBC

CEMENTED OUTER WALLS

ROOMS PER PERSONS

BALOCHISTAN

AWARAN

0.19

1.66

1.5

BARKHAN

1.29

18.7

2.73

BOLAN

1.41

6.49

3.32

CHAGAI

2.74

6.34

2.2

DERABUGTI

3.52

12.89

1.8

GAWADAR

1.67

18.93

4.23

JAFARABAD

3.54

9.3

4.4

JHAL MAGSI

0.48

1.5

4

KALAT

0.67

2.76

2.7

KECH(TURBAT)

2.49

5.92

1.3

KHARAN

0.44

4.01

1.4

KHUZDAR

2.66

5.82

2

KILLA ABDULLAH

2.10

6.29

3.3

KILLA SAIFULLAH

0.73

13.57

2.8

KOHLU

0.81

6.45

2.2

LESBELA

7.68

23.24

1.5

LORALAI

1.49

6.34

3

MASTUNG

1.99

8.64

3.39

MUSAKHEL KHAIL

0.44

37.82

2.8

NASIRABAD

2.58

5.8

1.7

PANJGUR

0.73

3.62

2.4

PISHIN

1.61

6.03

2.9

QUETTA

34.07

51.78

2.83

SIBI

5.41

18.3

2.3

ZOHB

3.18

60.22

3

ZIARAT

2.18

15.46

2.9

Source: Social development in Pakistan 2001