PM Khan launches flagship five million homes project

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Under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme five million houses would be built for underprivileged classes - This is file photo (Reuters)
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Prime Minister Imran Khan offering Dua after inauguration of Naya Pakistan program at Islamabad on 17th April 2019 – (PID)
Updated 18 April 2019

PM Khan launches flagship five million homes project

  • 135,000 low-cost houses will be built in the first phase of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme
  • At least 10 million Pakistanis live without proper housing, according to the World Bank

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday launched his government’s flagship low-cost housing project that envisages building five million homes in a country where at least ten million people are homeless, according to the World Bank.

Under the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme, 135,000 houses will be built in the first phase, 110,000 of them for fishermen in the southwestern Balochistan province, and 25,000 for government employees in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Khan was inspired to launch the project when he heard about a government employee who committed suicide after he learnt that the only way his family could retain their government-allocated residence was if he died while still in government service.

“That man jumped off a building the next day,” the prime minister said at the launch ceremony for the housing scheme. “It was then that I realised how difficult it is for the salaried class to gather funds needed for building houses."

The prime minister said five million homes was an ambitious target “but the good news is that investors are queuing up to come in and we are also trying to bring in the private sector.”

“I am very clear in my vision, and that is to bring underprivileged people out of poverty,” he said.

Khan, who was elected to office last year, made lofty campaign promises including that he would create 10 million jobs, bring Pakistanis out of homelessness and establish an “Islamic welfare state” modelled on the ideas first voiced by the Prophet Mohammad in the holy city of Medina.

Creating 10 million jobs would require the economy to grow at 8 percent. Last month, the central bank said Pakistan’s economic growth was set to slow to between 3.5-4.0 percent in the 2019 fiscal year from 5.2 percent in 2018.

Inflation was over 9.4 per cent in March, its highest since November 2013, with strong increases in food and energy, the two most sensitive items for most consumers.

Khan said the housing project would help generate jobs as slum areas were replaced with high rise buildings and commercial centres. He said a Chinese company specializing in prefabricated houses was ready to help build flats in slums and had the capability to complete an entire floor in one week.

“We will give them land, they will swiftly construct flats, and all slums will get converted,” he said.

Finance Minister Asad Umar said the housing project would play an important role in reviving the country’s struggling economy.

He said a revolving fund of five billion rupees had been set up to extend micro credit of up to 20 billion rupees to aspiring homeowners and private banks were being encouraged to grant maximum loans for the project.

“We are giving tax incentives to banks that will give loans for the low-cost housing project,” Umar said in his address at the launch. “The project will help fulfill the promise of the government of generating ten million jobs.”

Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

Updated 09 December 2019

Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

  • Blacklisting is not likely, Pakistan has made great strides, says Nadeem Lodhi
  • Greylisting of Pakistan is a geopolitical issue, according to Citibank

KARACHI: Citibank Pakistan has expressed its confidence that the country would not be further downgraded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the back of progress it has shown.
“Blacklisting (of Pakistan) is not probability now or any other time,” Nadeem Lodhi, CEO of Citibank Pakistan told journalists at Pakistan Media Roundtable held in Karachi on Monday. 
“Pakistan is making tremendous strides on the list provided by FATF and our regulator is very strong and they have made whatever they have to implement in the financial industry,” he added.
Citibank, which operates in 98 countries and acts as a correspondent bank in Pakistan offering services to corporate and public sector clients – making payments around $4 trillion per day to other banks – says its operations have not been impacted by the greylisting of the country.
“We as a correspondent bank operate on the same alert level (as before greylisting) and it is unchanged for us and business is not impacted or that the business of our client including financial institutions is not impacted,” said Moiz Hussain Ali, Citibank Pakistan country treasury and markets head, explaining that the greylisting of Pakistan is “more of a geopolitical issue.” 
“When Afghanistan is on the white list how can Pakistan be on the grey or black list?” Ali added.
In October, the Paris-based FATF expressed concerns with regard to “overall lack of progress” by Pakistan in addressing its terror financing risks, and gave Islamabad time until February 2020 to complete its full action plan or risk further downgrading.
“Should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to advise their FIs (financial institutions) to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan,” the FATF warned.
Citibank officials say Pakistan may remain on the greylist till the end of the upcoming year.
“The list given to Pakistan is quite long and it is not that you can do it overnight,” Ali said.
He expressed satisfaction with the government’s current economic policies and called for their continuation.
According to the Citibank officials, if the current political regime, where the army and political leadership look united, continues for the next two years, things should improve.
They said a number of multinational companies are planning to invest at least $500 million each in various sectors of the economy, ranging from consumer goods to energy.