Dubbed: ‘Me Fie’, to wit ‘My House’, the programme is expected to take off in November this year.
It is targeted at both public sector workers, and individuals in the private and informal sectors who will be able to provide evidence of a regular source of income.
The programme is under a public-private partnership arrangement where the Minister of Works and Housing government will absorb 40 per cent of the cost of the housing units by providing land and infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity and drainage and sewage systems.
Already, over 161.87 hectares of land in the two locations have been secured for the take-off of the programme.
Giving further details, the minister said under the arrangement, the only preoccupation of the private sector or developer would be to construct the houses and sell them to the individuals on the payroll who could pay in instalments to selected financial institutions and banks acting as off-takers (purchasers).
In the case of the World Bank, he indicated that the government was holding talks with the bank to support some local banks with long-term funding to empower the beneficiary banks to lend money to customers to pay back in instalments.
“Once we get those arrangements right, we would have contributed substantially to addressing the inability of public sector workers and others in the private and informal sectors with regular source of income to access their own homes,” he explained.
Mr Asenso-Boakye pointed out that under the new arrangement, the Ministry of Finance was required to grant “statutory approval” because there were laws guiding that kind of public-private partnership agreement.
Consequently, he said: “I wish action will be expedited on the approval process.”
“I wish to highlight this because this housing programme is very important to Ghanaians; if we are able to expedite action, by November we should be able to start construction. A lot of companies have expressed interest and embraced this new concept,” he said.
He said the thrust of the revised affordable housing programme was premised on available statistics which showed that 60 per cent of Ghanaians could only access housing with government support.
Another 35 percent, he said, could not access housing even if the government provided some support, while only five per cent of the people could access their own housing units without the support of the government.
“So our strategy is to address the needs of the 60 per cent of Ghanaians who need government support; so we looked at the various components of housing cost: land, infrastructure, financing from the demand side, mortgage arrangements, and we figured out what the government could do to support that segment of the population,” the minister said.
He acknowledged the fact that the acquisition of land was a big issue in the country because its availability and the processes of acquisition, particularly under the country’s land tenure system, were a “big deal”.
It was for that reason that, he said, the government, under the revised initiative and framework, which was more cost-effective, decided to absorb the cost of acquiring land and provide the infrastructure and tax incentives, including granting import duty reliefs to private developers who wanted to partner the government in the provision of affordable housing units.
Taking a deeper look at the factors militating against the provision of affordable housing, he said the banks in the country were mostly commercial banks whose main source of funding was from money deposited with them by customers in terms of salaries, which did not guarantee long-term funding and providing mortgage of up to 35 years.
“In the advanced countries where the financial system is robust, workers are provided with mortgages to own homes which the financial institutions buy and then workers are made to pay for by instalments, sometimes up to 40 years,” he added.
In the past, Mr Asenso-Boakye noted, successive governments and regimes had been at the forefront of providing affordable housing units, but, unfortunately, such efforts had not been effective due to inadequate funds.
He said when he assumed office, he realised that it was not possible to make the provision of affordable housing an entire government programme.
“There was, therefore, the need to evolve a strategy that could leverage private sector investment with government support,” he said.
Saglemi housing project
Touching on the Saglemi housing project, Mr Asenso-Boakye said although the issue was in court, the government was committed to ensuring the completion of the project under an arrangement that would ensure value for money.
“Currently, we are looking at various options that will be viable, affordable and give value for money because the kind of infrastructure that we need to put in place to make the project disbursed. habitable is quite expensive.
“The options include the government sourcing for funds to complete the project and giving it out as accommodation to the security agencies.
Another option is to give the about $114 million project to the private sector for completion, so that it can, in turn, sell the units, take the profit and pay whatever proceeds will be left after the transactions into national coffers,” he intimated.
He revealed that so far 1,506 units out of the expected 5,000 housing units had been provided, while about 98 per cent of the $200 million meant for the project had been
However, even with the 1,506 units, he observed, the units were not habitable due to a lack of water, electricity, storm drains and sewerage treatment systems estimated to cost
Mr Asenso-Boakye touched on dilapidated government bungalows scattered across the country and gave an assurance that under a redevelopment programme, the government would rehabilitate and beautify the land space around dilapidated bungalows in prime areas in Accra and the regional capitals.
Among the objectives of the programme he said, was to optimise land space by building more housing units because it had been identified that some of the bungalows that were small had been sited on large parcels of land.
“As I sit here, I have a lot of applications from government workers who want to live in government bungalows; many of them are living around Cantoruments, Labone, Ridge Laterbiokorshie, among others”, he explained.