Saturday September 22, 2012
State government gets tough
By SHARON LING
KUCHING: The state government is considering measures to prevent housing projects from being abandoned as part of an ongoing review of the Housing Developers (Licensing and Control) Ordinance 1993.
Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the review was necessary to align the Ordinance with current industry issues and challenges.
As a measure to prevent the abandonment of projects, he said the review would consider the requirement of a deposit to be paid by housing developers.
“In the existing Ordinance, developers do not need to pay a deposit but only have to provide a bank guarantee on their projects,” he said when opening the Sarawak Builders Expo (Sarbex) 2012 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching yesterday.
Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Sheda) president Zaidi Ahmad had earlier requested the state government not to impose a deposit of 3% of the gross development value, as practised in some states, as this would be counter-productive.
Zaidi also said the number of abandoned projects in the state was not high and did not justify the deposit.
In response, Johari said the deposit required might not be 3%.
“But some money must be deposited to protect buyers and we will negotiate the quantum. We have to balance the needs of house buyers along with that of developers,” he said.
Johari also said the review would take into account issues related to developing gated and guarded communities and enhancing licensing and other regulatory requirements for housing developers.
He said the development of gated and guarded communities was a new trend in the state’s housing industry.
“There is no legal provision in the Ordinance regulating the development of gated and guarded communities,” he said.
Johari noted that another emerging trend was the construction of commercial complexes with residential facilities on the top floor.
“The Ordinance is vague as to whether a licence is required for this. This is a grey area which we will look into,” he said.
He assured Sheda that the Housing Ministry would conduct negotiations with the association, consultants, architects, engineers and other stakeholders on the revision of the Ordinance before introducing it in the State Legislative Assembly.
On the matter of affordable housing brought up by Sheda, Johari said the state government’s stand was to find ways and means to supply this category of houses to low-income earners.
He said he was in negotiations with the 1Malaysia People’s Housing programme (PR1MA) to construct affordable homes in Petra Jaya.
“I’m also trying to establish a zone for affordable housing in the price range of RM300,000 and below,” he said, adding that developers should work together with the Government to achieve this.
Zaidi, in his speech earlier, had urged the state government to allow the conversion of state land in urban areas and some native land within a 25-30km radius of the city for affordable housing.
“This is because public land is very expensive and these steps can help to increase the supply of affordable housing,” he said.
He also called for the implementation of stratified housing as a way to supply more affordable housing, especially in urban areas.
“The Government should take these pre-emptive steps to address rising property prices. We believe affordable housing will be an issue in the future as the gap between household income and house prices grows.
“We believe our proposals will help to address this issue,” he added.