National Housing Policy to be reviewed, says minister

Zuraida Kamaruddin

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KUCHING, June 21: The Federal Ministry of Housing and Local Government will be reviewing the National Housing Policy to make houses more affordable, especially to the B40 group or those with monthly income below RM3,860.

Its minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin, told reporters here today that besides reviewing the pricing of houses, she intended to group all housing developers, particularly those dealing with low-cost housing, under one roof in her ministry.

“If the housing developers come under one roof, I can guide the pricing, scheme, design and distribution so that not everybody will just go to one specific area to develop. As for the price control, we have to look at it without losing focus on the middle or lower income group.

“We will have to look into a model on how to make the houses more affordable because the main issue is that most people in this income group (B40) could not get housing loans,” she lamented.

Zuraida added that she would be meeting Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Bank Negara to work out a solution to make it easier for this category of people to get housing loans.

Nevertheless, she added, relaxing the loan criteria would not mean that everyone in the B40 group would be able to qualify for housing loans.

“It still depends on the price of the houses. But like I said, if we put all developers under one roof, I will be able to look at the bigger picture, making it easier to administer the policy and probably cut down the price further.”

Asked if the policy would affect house buyers in Sarawak, Zuraida commented that the Sarawak government might have its own laws on housing. However, she added, it would be good for the state government to look at the reviewed policies of the federal government.

“I think they (Sarawak government) should cooperate with us. During my earlier meetings with Sarawak Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, they agreed that we focus on the B40 or lower income group. If that’s the case, then I think we are quite in line.”

Zuraida also revealed that her ministry would be setting up a special committee for Sarawak to study the trends, culture and housing needs of Sarawakians.

“Sarawak has its own peculiarities, so we have to form a committee for Sarawak and study the needs of Sarawakians because their houses are designed differently compared to the peninsula, especially longhouses.

“So we will probably maintain the traditional concept but with modern facilities. The special committee or task force will look into this after it is formed.”

Asked if her ministry will be tabling any legislation to nab errant housing developers who purposely jack up prices, Zuraida said she would need to meet up with the relevant authorities as the subject was very technical.

“But it is a good practice so that people do not abuse by means of market speculation. I think we should curb this.” — DayakDaily