NHC changes tact – Plan mooted to develop unused state leases

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 28th March 2013

 STATE land which has been acquired and left dormant for more than five years will now be turned over to the National Housing Corporation for public housing purposes.

The NHC is using rarely applied parts of its own act and that of the Lands and Physical Planning Act to acquire undeveloped urban leases for this purpose.

The Lands Act provides (at section 111-114) that the NHC can bypass the lands board and apply directly to the minister for lands to issue a certificate of occupancy over urban development leases which had been left vacant for more than five years.

Already 35,000 blocks of land had been acquired by the NHC in Port Moresby to build affordable homes for the public.
NHC managing director John Dege told a gathering of provincial housing managers yesterday in Port Moresby that a unique package had been developed under which individuals would acquire decent homes for not more than K300,000.
He told the managers NHC would no longer own houses and all that it now owned would be sold off. 
It plans to build new homes, sell them to individuals and share the profits with builders. 
The scheme involved the NHC as the provider of serviced state land, ANZ Bank as the provider of housing loans, Southern Cross Insurance for insurance coverage and a number of building companies with credible reputations.
“We are not interested in going to the Finance Department any more for money,” Dege said.
“We want to throw away home ownership schemes which have not worked for decades.
“We are dealing with individuals, not institutional buildings, and our people have to change their no-care attitude towards properties owned by others.”
Under the scheme, individuals would apply to the NHC and, once approved, would obtain bank loans for their homes and repay them at reduced interest rates over an extended repayment period of 25 years. 
The customers would be discouraged from selling their homes so that the properties do not go back on the market at higher prices to distort the market, Dege said.
Eda Ranu and PNG Power had been roped into the scheme to plan for increased pressure on their services.
Government has already approved concession for all housing inputs for builders under the NHC scheme to reduce housing costs.
Dege also revealed to his managers the NHC website where all available housing held by the NHC, all forfeited UDLs acquired by the NHC and all other information could be found.
“A lot of people have accused us (NHC) of stealing houses and vacant state land. 
“We are not hiding anything from the public, government or NHC staff.
“Under my management, we will be transparent. 
“We will basically, truly and truthfully deliver affordable housing under the build, sell and transfer principle.”