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Govt to strengthen tax incentives for housing industry

BY: Delali Sika
  Francis Asenso-Boakye - Minister of Works and Housing
Francis Asenso-Boakye - Minister of Works and Housing

The Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, has said the government will strengthen the application of tax incentives and exemption laws to attract private firms to the housing sector.

That, he said, was vital to create an enabling environment for the housing sector to thrive.

He also noted that the prevailing strategy of the government was to secure land banks, provide the requisite infrastructure service for the land banks and designate them as affordable housing enclaves for private sector investment.

Mr Asenso-Boakye said this at the opening of the Knightsbridge Luxurious Affordable Housing in Kwabenya in the Ga East Municipality by Rehoboth Properties Limited, a real estate developer.

Economic Growth

Mr Asenso-Boakye noted that it was common knowledge that the housing sector was of great importance to the economy and a dependable indicator of the economic growth of the country.

“It is, therefore, without doubt that the housing industry, as in many economies, holds the key to development of our country, I am encouraged by the role Rehoboth Properties is playing to meet the enormous challenges of the industry,” he said.

“Housing has become one of the critical development issues facing us as a country. Government has prioritised the delivery of affordable housing units to address the gap and increase access to various affordable housing schemes, thereby reducing the housing deficit,” the works and housing minister stated.

Mr Asenso-Boakye added that in doing so, the ministry would create an enabling environment, induce private sector investment towards meeting the needs of lower income households and other vulnerable groups such as children, women, the disabled and the elderly.”

Home Ownership Fund

The government, the minister said, had already set up the Home Ownership Fund under the auspices of the ministries of Finance and Works and Housing to provide Ghana-cedi denominated mortgages to enable the average Ghanaian, especially public servants, to own homes.

Mr Asenso-Boakye, therefore, invited all real estate developers to embrace the government’s framework and invest more to positively affect the lives of the larger population.

Subsequently, he stated that there would be the Ghana Housing Authority which would be charged to regulate, plan and manage housing development in the country.

Infrastructure Backup

A former Speaker of Parliament, Rev. Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, stated that government should assist developers with projects like this with infrastructure backups, lands without disputes, roads, etc, so that the two can move and produce good results for the country,

He also encouraged the youth to take advantage of the affordable housing systems, adding that banks also had a role to play in affordable housing.

“Banks and other financial institutions should turn their eyes towards these things by providing soft loan facilities. The Bank of Ghana should direct every bank to commit a certain percentage of profit for soft loans for housing. Also, we should also look at the production of building materials locally to help reduce prices,” he said.

Bridging the gap

Speaking at the opening, the CEO of Rehoboth Properties Limited, Gideon Ayiku Akrofi, urged the government to put in place good policy incentives for private-owned businesses in the housing industry.

He noted that it would help curb some of the challenges facing affordable housing in the country.

"Government can give private owned businesses good policy incentives, platforms to not only help bridge the gap in the housing industry but to also provide the necessary platform for sustainability of the environment," Mr Akrofi noted.

Additionally, he said the cost of building materials were high which translated into pricing of houses, something that should be looked into.

"We call on the government to assist local private companies for the production of building materials etc, this will compensate for price increment and enhance affordability, thereby bridging the gap in the housing industry," he said.

GREDA

The President of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), Patrick E. Bonful, noted that needed a deliberate effort was to curb the housing deficit in Ghana.

“The housing deficit, according to Ghana Statistical Service, is at 1.8 million housing units and we need deliberate, direct and indirect interventions of the central government in partnership with GREDA to bridge the gap.

“Rehoboth properties have been doing their best to help provide affordable, adequate housing to the people of Ghana. GREDA is also advocating cheaper construction finance for the supply side of affordable housing, it is also actively advocating longer terms cedi denominated home financed mortgages with an average tenure of 25 years, and average interest rate of 12 per cent per annum,” he said.

Arguably, Mr Bonful said home mortgage financing was the least risky investment for any investor or financial institution.

Hosted by Multimedia's Nathaniel Attoh, the project was dedicated to God by His Eminence Archbishop Nicolas Duncan Williams, Founder and General Overseer of Action Chapel International

Present at the opening ceremony were chiefs, Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana Limited, Mr Dan Sackey, Head of Department of Psychologist UGMS, Professor Angela L. Ofori-Atta, Queen mothers and stakeholders.

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