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Commit 4% of GDP to address housing deficit - Atta Akyea proposes

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, is proposing that four per cent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) be committed to the housing sector to address the housing challenge confronting the country.

According to him, the yawning housing deficit of more than two million facing the country would require not just revolutionary measures, but also a more radical approach to ensure that the challenge was addressed once and for all.

“Two million housing unit deficit; if this is our problem, then let’s use about four per cent of the entire GDP of the country as a leverage for two purposes- that is construction financing and also mortgage financing to addressing it,” he emphasised.

The minister who was addressing the maiden edition of the  Ghana Affordable Housing Finance Forum in Accra yesterday said, unless some bold initiatives were taken to address the challenge, nothing much would be achieved in that direction.

“If we are afraid to tackle this problem aggressively, chances are that this yawning deficit will be mocking us for a long time, and the next generation will not forgive us,” he stressed.

He said government sources were totally inadequate to tackle the housing problem, as such leveraging four per cent of the GDP would be the only way out, if the desired changes were to be effected.

Mr Akyea said as part of the measures towards dealing with the problem, a mortgage and housing financing fund had been set up by the government.

The fund he said would start with a seed capital of GH₵1billion, explaining that: “This is because the national kitty is so limited and oversubscribed that we can never use that medium to address the issue of housing financing.”

In addition to this, he said the bond market must be utilised in raising huge sums of monies for investment in this direction, adding that, “People say cocoa matters, but I want to also submit that housing matters; so why don’t we go to the bond market and raise huge sums of monies to meet this basic needs of humanity?”

He said the ministry was on course to deliver the more than 270,000 affordable housing units also referred to as the Akufo-Addo Housing Project.

On his part, Dr Frank Gyamfi-Yeboah, Head of Department, Land Economy at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said the current system of housing delivery in the country was not only inefficient, “but making our cities unliveable and severely limiting the contribution of housing sector to the economy.”

He said there was an urgent need for a change in the country’s housing delivery process by moving it from its informal nature to a more formalised system.

“Housing provision must move from an informal activity with little or no coordination among the key stakeholders to a formal activity that is well planned, financed and built in a way that makes houses affordable and accessible to all,” he said.

Dr Gyamfi-Yeboah said housing provision could not continue to remain a self-help activity with no regard for spatial planning and provision of basic infrastructure.

By Cliff Ekuful

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