BY Roznah Abdul Jabbar
The government has never failed to introduce new measures in the national budget every year to help the rakyat own a home, but the people’s plea for affordable housing continues.
For Budget 2017, their suggestions for the low- and mid-income groups, especially first-time homebuyers, were found under the “Housing and Urban Living” category on the bajet2017.najibrazak.com website that was open to the public from September 5-19.
Joshua Phua commended the government’s efforts in trying to provide affordable housing, especially for the B40 (below 40 years of age) group, but wishes there was more effort put in for the middle-income bracket.
Atasya Osmadi suggests that both the government and the private sector create a scheme whereby affordable housing units are developed on the build-then-sell basis and buyers own them by paying interest-free instalments, similar to that being practised in countries such as Australia and Canada.
She also said there is a serious mismatch between house prices and the rakyat’s income.
“The government should review the prices to match the income, increase the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT), restrict the number of houses owned by an individual, and restrict foreign ownership of residential properties in Malaysia,” Atasya added.
There are also suggestions for building more affordable homes near LRT and MRT stations.
However, Ranes Subramaniam noted that several developers capitalise on locations with transportation facilities for their own benefit, such as using their development’s proximity to these stations as an excuse to sell their units at high prices.
Ranes reasoned that those who can afford a RM1 million condominium would unlikely use public transport to their workplace, so building expensive homes near such a facility does not serve the purpose of helping the masses own affordable homes.
The government has been introducing new as well as enhanced programmes for affordable housing in every national budget over the years.
In Budget 2011, MFHS was announced for first timers with household income of less than RM3,000 whereby they could obtain a 100 per cent housing loan for units priced below RM220,000. However, MFHS was deemed impractical by several parties including the National House Buyers Association.
In Budget 2012, the government increased the limit of the price of homes to RM400,000 from RM220,000.
Additionally, the government established PR1MA as the sole agency to develop and maintain affordable and quality houses, specifically for the middle-income group.
In Budget 2013, it was announced that a total of RM1.9 billion would be allocated to build 123,000 affordable housing units in “strategic locations”, which will be implemented by PR1MA, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB) and Jabatan Perumahan Negara.
In his Budget speech, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said a total of RM500 million will be spent by PR1MA to build 80,000 houses in major locations nationwide with the selling price ranging between RM100,000 and RM400,000.
In the same year, he announced MFHS will be improved by increasing the income limit for individual loans from RM3,000 to RM5,000.
In Budget 2014, he said PR1MA would provide 80,000 housing units with an allocation of RM1 billion and the sales price of PR1MA houses would be 20 per cent lower than market prices.
Yet another programme called the MyDeposit scheme was implemented in April this year whereby first-time house buyers from households with a monthly income of between RM3,000 and RM10,000 will receive a contribution of 10 per cent of the sale price or a maximum of RM30,000 (whichever is lower) to help them buy units priced at RM500,000 and below.
Under Budget 2016, a total of RM200 million was allocated for MyDeposit’s implementation.
This year, the rakyat continues to hope that the government’s efforts and fresh measures to be announced in Budget 2017 would help make their dream of owning a home come true.