Despite the good job being done by the National Housing Corporation (NHC) in the country, the pricing of houses it constructs for sale to customers is not in consonance with the objective for its establishment.
The observation was made by members of the Parliament yesterday in Dodoma at a seminar organised by NHC during which its officials briefed the lawmakers about the corporation’s 2010/2011 -2014-2015 strategic plan.
According to the MPs, the main objective for establishing the corporation was to build houses for the common people, including civil servants, but the pricing of most houses now being constructed by the corporation completely locked out low-income earners.
They said the concept of low-cost house with two bedrooms was not reflected in the houses being put up by the corporation, as a single ‘low-cost’ unit was being sold at over Sh 40million.
They said the corporation, which should have focused on assisting low- and middle-income earners to possess homes, had now shifted its focus to building homes for high-income earners.
They said unless deliberate efforts were made by the government to come up with a strategy to lower the prices of the housing units, the houses being built by the corporation would be bought only by corrupt people and well-to-do businesspeople.
It was minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) Hawa Ghasia who opened the floodgate of complaints against the prices, saying Sh 41 million for a so-called low-cost house did not target a common person.
She said recently she asked a relative of hers to inquire about the prices of NHC housing units built at Mchikichini in Dar es Salaam and was shocked to learn that one unit was selling at Sh 168 million without VAT.
Urambo West lawmaker Juma Kapuya also complained about the high prices of the NHC houses, saying the impression one got is that the corporation had deviated from its original focus on the common mwananchi.
Special Seats MP Rukia Kassim Mohammed echoed similar sentiments, adding that even the rental fee for NHC houses had skyrocketed from Sh200,000 to Sh500,000.
“The corporation is now operating on a commercial basis rather than assisting the downtrodden,” she remarked.
Bukombe legislator Prof Kolikoyela Kahigi asked NHC to involve the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) in the search for title deeds of NHC houses whose whereabouts were still unknown.
Asumpter Mshama and Kangi Lugola also voiced similar observation, saying NHC had shut out low-income earners from buying its housing units due to their high prices.
Mustafa Akuunay said the high prices of NHC houses were a result of bad fiscal policies. He said during 2010 general election campaigns Chadema’s election manifesto had proposed a tax waiver on construction materials with a view to enabling people construct decent houses.
Having blamed VAT and other taxes imposed on construction material as one of the factors for the high prices, Hilda Ngoye (CCM-Special Seats) called for Bill that would waive them.
NHC director general NehemiaMchechu, for his part, said VAT and rising costs of building materials were to blame for the high prices of the housing units.
Giving an example, Mchechu said a house costing Sh100 million with VAT would cost Sh118 million. He implored the MPs to convince the government to waive VAT on houses constructed by NHC so it would be possible to lower the prices.
Another factor for the high prices, according to Mchechu, was that the corporation had to shoulder the cost for infrastructure, such electricity, water and roads, in the site areas.