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The staggering effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic have been most challenging for us in the real estate business sector.
Hence, to cushion the industry from the head-on impacts of the prolonged community quarantine, CREBA vigorously appealed for the immediate resumption of housing, building and infrastructure construction projects under productive work-site quarantine that has all necessary health and safety protocols. We thought this as crucial in order to help alleviate government support in the 4-milion strong construction labor workforce; decongest densely populated communities; as a balik-trabaho measure for our returned skilled OFW; fast-track critical government projects vital in our urgently-needed economic recovery; raise much needed government funds in the form of taxes; and to ultimately pump-prime the national economy.
This initiative was championed by our DHSUD Secretary including our proposal for the capping of interest rates for new and existing loans up to a maximum of 3% for a period not less than three (3) years until the economy fully recovers. This should be a significant assistance to our SME developers who depend on bank financing for their projects which will help developers recover from losses due to months of non-production and the slow-down in collections due to the moratorium and grace periods given to affected renters and homebuyers.
CREBA likewise moved to maintain urban mass housing of up to P3 Million per unit in the Investment Priority Plan of the BOI while pushing for the status quo of VAT-exempt housing purchases up to P3.2 million per unit -- a privilege that homebuyers will cease to enjoy by January 2021 in accordance with the TRAIN Law -- to prevent sudden housing price surge beyond the affordability of yet homeless Filipinos.
The Chamber batted for the freezing of real property taxes at current levels for a period of at least two (2) years, and the moratorium on any additional property-related taxes at both national and LGU levels.
Looking ahead, CREBA supported the economic stimulus package principally authored by Congresswoman Stella Quimbo underscoring that housing production, particularly for the homeless poor, must be included in priority industries for appropriate economic relief through additional development loans; wage cost-sharing assistance especially for the construction work-force and purely commission-based salespersons; easing of rules and requirements to fast-track projects stalled by the prolonged ECQ in NCR and most parts of Luzon; and fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for both developers and homebuyers.
Yet, still topping its priorities today is its 5-Point Housing Agenda. And while two of these agenda have been enacted into law, namely, the Balanced Housing Program Amendment Act under R.A. 10884, and the creation of the DHSUD under R.A. 11201, other continuing concerns include:
- The establishment of the Comprehensive Home Financing Program (CHFP) through the amendment of the CISFA Law;
- Passage of the Valuation Reform Bill to introduce reforms in real property valuation and assessment, to do away with multiple, overlapping, and outdated valuations;
- Institution of a fair and just national land use plan for the entire country; and
- The operationalization of the Housing One-Stop Processing Centers (HOPCs) in all regions to centralize and hasten the processing and issuance of all required housing-related permits, clearances, and licenses nationwide
Finally, the Chamber put forward to DHSUD a proposal for the temporary suspension of the balanced housing requirement for a period of two (2) years to help developers focus available resources in starting and completing main projects while socialized housing developers intensify and ramp up their production. The issuance of provisional license-to-sell valid for 2 years will, in turn, ease bottlenecks and fast-track the release of housing-related permits to spur housing and real estate development activities.
As extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, we hope that CREBA’s proposals be considered as government sets its long-term and forward-looking vision for the future of our country.
We stand solidly behind our country’s collective efforts to Heal and Help each other as One, as we contribute as well to the direction and future of our Country.
BY: NOEL TOTI M. CARIÑO
National President, CREBA