Free up State land to make housing affordable: ICCC

National, Normal


THE Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) has called for the immediate freeing up of State land and the sale of customary land to address scarcity of land in order to ease the desperate shortage of affordable housing in Port Moresby.
ICCC chief executive officer Thomas Abe last Friday released the draft report containing the ICCC’s views and recommendations on a reform package aimed at making housing more affordable to Papua New Guineans.
The draft report was based on the review undertaken by ICCC on improving growth and development in the housing and real estate industry through identifying existing impediments and recommending appropriate actions that the Government could adopt in order to foster industry growth.
Mr Abe said in drafting the report, the ICCC had taken into account various studies on housing, including the current land reform initiative and feedback from previously-held consultations.
Recommendations from the report highlighted by Mr Abe include :
* The immediate freeing up of State land and encouraging the bringing of customary land into the market to address scarcity of raw land;
* Promotion of competition and efficiency at every stage of the vertical chain from release of land under Urban Development Leases (UDLs), through the subdivision stage, to home construction, thereby generating efficiency and creating space for the private sector by winding back inefficient Government involvement in housing;
* Encouraging innovation in building materials and design; and
* Implementation of an effective consumer protection regime to prevent exploitation of consumers and address ‘opportunistic’ conduct in the real estate agency and building sectors.
“The adoption of these recommendations and taking a coordinated approach to their implementation will not only go a long way to resolving the housing scarcity, but will “kick-start’ the residential construction sector and create the conditions for its evolution into a key contributor to national economic growth,” Mr Abe said. He said this would in turn bring resulting benefits from employment, incomes, diversification of the economy and general improvement in living standards for ordinary Papua New Guineans.
The ICCC said the high prices of houses and lack of affordability was due to failures in inefficient and insufficient supply of raw land (portions).
“There is no competition and efficiency at any stage of the vertical chain due to lack of transparency in land allocation to developers,” the ICCC boss said.
He said the reform also addressed organisational deficiencies including lack of clarity of Government policy, which in turn creates the conditions for divergent, and sometimes conflicting, initiatives on housing by various arms of Government.