Zuraida: New national housing policy in Sept

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

A NEW national housing policy is scheduled to be unveiled in September, said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (picture).

She said the policy, which is being reviewed, will address the definition of affordable housing, the future building concept, size and amenities that the ministry intends to incorporate in public and private housing schemes.

Zuraida told a press conference at the Parliament yesterday that the review of the policy is also meant to address the current oversupply situation faced by the high-end property market.

“I think we are in the situation where we have to rectify the overblown of high-end housing, which the ministry is going to study and see how we can deal with this.

“We have to solve this problem with the developer on how they are going to clear their inventory and how the ministry is going to facilitate (this),” she said.

Zuraida said for now, the ministry has generally frozen most of the approvals for high-end developments and will relook at the demands for specific ranges of housing projects.

“We, again, have to sit down with the developers and help them on the issues of oversupply. But at the ministrial level, we are seeing the importance and need to build the affordable homes, so that will go on,” she said.

Zuraida also acknowledged the concerns raised by think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in a report yesterday, which had warned the government to be ready for the “bubble” in the Malaysian property market to burst, as a result of the spectacular growth of the high-end property segment, and the risk that this could lead to an economic crisis in the country.

In the report, IDEAS senior fellow Dr Carmelo Ferlito said the focus on the high-end segment is justified by high demand, which is followed with heavy investment in that sector.

However, it now appears that unexploited profit opportunities are disappearing with a capital allocation restructuring seen to be necessary.

“The high involvement of government agencies in the affordable housing market risks to crowding out private initiative and preventing the necessary restructuring from taking place,” Ferlito said.

He added that the government needs to be ready for the bubble to burst and the risk that this leads to an economic crisis.

He also suggested the government to respond with market-oriented solutions and pay special attention to the household financial exposure, besides downplaying its role in the property market by reducing the number of government agencies and encouraging the private sector to get involved in the affordable housing market.

He said the government should also enhance financial literacy among Malaysians, with an orientation towards the value of saving and the possibilities offered by the rental market.

“Finally, the government may open and ease up the regulations in the property market to foreigners who possess a regular working visa and pay taxes to help the industry in a crucial moment of difficulty,” Ferlito added.