Estate surveyors and valuers have called for an intervention fund from the Federal Government for the housing sector, as it has done to other troubled sectors of the economy including manufacturing, aviation and agriculture.
The housing sector professionals also want the government to review the country’s mortgage policy with a view to bringing down the high and unaffordable interest rate on mortgage loans.
Emeka Eleh, president, Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), who made this call ahead of the institution’s annual conference, stresses that high interest rate is a major challenge of the mortgage banking sector .
The 43rd annual conference already slated for this month in Benin City, Edo State, he says, will be declared open by President Goodluck Jonathan, while Oby Ezekwesili, the immediate past vice president of the World Bank and former minister of education, will be the guest speaker.
According to Eleh, the 2013 conference with the theme, ‘Infrastructure Development and Economic Empowerment,’ will be attended by the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and many other dignitaries, including Ahmed Mansur, director-general, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
Worried by the inability of many Nigerians to access mortgage facilities from banks because of the high interest rates, Eleh emphasises it will require a special intervention fund from government for mortgage banks to provide low-interest facilities to property developers and individuals wishing to own properties., and canvasses for the involvement of conventional retail banks in the administration of such intervention fund to ensure wider spread of access to the facility.
“There must be a direct intervention of government in the housing sector as was done to sectors such as banking, aviation and agriculture,” he says, suggesting that such intervention can be in the region of N500 billion to stimulate the housing industry and create jobs.
He points out that such intervention will reduce unemployment in the country as the housing industry supports many other subsidiary businesses such as food, water, sand supplies as well as building materials.
“An average construction site generates huge formal and informal job opportunities, ranging from food retailers, sand and water suppliers, building materials and the artisans that work directly on the sites,” he says.
To him, access to mortgage facilities must involve retail banks in the disbursement of government mortgage funds to take advantage of their spread to reach subscribers all over the country, and government should set up a Mortgage Liquidity Company in partnership with the World Bank and International Finance Company to administer the mortgage funds through commercial retail banks.
“Mortgage banks as presently structured and constituted cannot stimulate housing development. The retail banks are better placed and structured to make the mortgage system more effective. The intervention funds provided through mortgage and retail banks will force down interest rates to a point where ordinary Nigerians can access housing funds,” he says