The Lands, Physical Planning and Housing Sector Board held its monthly meeting on 7th August 2019 at KEPSA offices. The main agenda of the meeting was to deliberate on the Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) policy and laws.
Affordable Housing is one of the pillars in the Big Four agenda, which is being spearheaded by the sector board from the Private Sector side. In efforts to ensure affordability of houses in the country, the government exempted the first time homeowners from paying stamp duty. However, the sector board was informed that the exemptions are only for houses registered under the AHP. The sector board members raised concerns because the government did not initially tell the private sector that they have to register their buildings as part of the AHP. The sector board members noted that the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development did not also brief the private sector the requirement for registering a building as part of the AHP. The sector board agreed to raise the concern in the next ministerial stakeholders’ forum.
Sector board members noted the importance of ensuring that the local manufacturers, professionals and developers in AHP are protected. This can be done by defining what 40 per cent local content entails to safeguard local companies. The government should ensure no materials are imported from outside the country unless there is clear prove that there is no local capacity to produce the material. This will not only increase job opportunities but will also ensure the actualization of the Manufacturing Pillar under the Big Four agenda.
The meeting was apprised of the Built Environment Bill, which has been developed by the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, and Housing and Urban Development. The main objective of this Bill is to make provision for the establishment of Standards and Practices in the Built Environment relating to building, maintenance and associated works. A new statutory regime has been necessitated by the need to conform to the Constitution and more specifically the realization of the rights guaranteed in Article 43 and Vision 2030, which envisions an adequately and decently housed nation in a sustainable environment.
The sector board has been keen on ensuring the bill is developed to make the process of reviewing the current Building Code legal. The current Building Code has become outdated with new technology since it was developed more 50 years ago. However, some sector board members raised concerns about some areas of the current bill. For example, the bill only recognized the architects and engineers as the only building professional, the bill also narrow to construction to be only buildings. The sector board agreed to review the bill comprehensively and then develop a memorandum to submit to the ministry.