Published on September 30, 2013, Business Mirror Online:

Written by Cai U. Ordinario

RAPID urbanization is one of the biggest challenges faced by the housing sector today and will be facing in the years to come, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

By 2030 or in less than 20 years, Neda Deputy Director General Rolando Tungpalan said 65 percent of the Philippines will be urbanized. In 2010 he said a lesser 49 percent of the country is considered urban.

“We want to slow that down. You know urbanization is inevitable but as the updating of the plan [Philippine Development Plan] is focusing on specific geographic areas and sectors like agribusiness and tourism, which is outside of Metro Manila, you actually create attractive locations,” Tungpalan said.

The national government is urging developers to undertake housing projects in areas outside of Metro Manila to help boost growth in the agribusiness and tourism sectors.

Tungpalan said by placing amenities such as housing developments and infrastructures, future employees will be able relocate to these places. This will help these areas achieve growth potential.

The Neda official said, however, that the government is undertaking measures to help targeted sectors of society cope with rapid urbanization and the lack of housing facilities in cities.

He said these sectors include nonformal workers, minimum-wage earners, uniformed personnel, informal- settler families, indigenous peoples and the formal sector.

“My challenge to the housing sector is for them to help the government make a livable environment,” Tungpalan said. “The explicit geographic focus and sectoral focus for the agribusiness and tourism will soften the stemming of the migration from rural to urban,” Tungpalan explained.

In its Report on Estimated Housing Starts, the National Statistics Office showed that there was a 17.3-percent increase or 30,870 in housing units nationwide in 2012.

Housing units increased to 211,009 in 2012, higher than the 180,140 units in 2011. The housing units were valued at P120.37 billion in 2012, higher than the P100.22 billion posted in 2011.