Published on September 27, 2013, The Philippine Star:

Written by Ted P. Torres

MANILA, Philippines – Despite strong economic growth in the past three quarters, the national housing backlog is still estimated at 3.9 million units this year and is expected to further swell to seven million by 2030, according to the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA).

SHDA president Paul Tanchi said among the factors working against fast growth in the housing sector, especially the private sector, include inaccessibility and inadequacy of government housing finance for lower and mid-income segments, varying and even conflicting land use policies, too much red tape or bureaucracy and conflicting land policies.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) deputy director general Rolando G. Tungpalan said government is re-tooling its strategy in the face of some disturbing growth data.

The country’s urbanization grew 45 percent in 2009 and forecast to accelerate further to 65 percent in 2030.

“But we want to slow that down. Urbanization is inevitable so we are focusing on the specific geographic areas, which is outside of Metro Manila,” Tungpalan told reporters on the sidelines of the SHDA national convention yesterday.

Instead of limiting the development of low-cost housing in the major cities, government believes it has to create attractive locations. That means relocating and developing not just low-cost housing but also services sector such as markets, schools, or developed infrastructure.

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Tungpalan said government cannot address the housing gap alone, as it is scaling down to just 940,520 its original target of putting up 1.5-million low-cost housing units this year.

He said SHDA members are asking for fiscal incentives which government is hard pressed to give.

“There is an overall process of reviewing fiscal incentives. However, there are non-fiscal incentives, for instance, public plans that can be made available so that developers can bring down costs,” the NEDA official said.