Federal Cabinet in its recent meeting approved to establish another Housing Authority namely “Naya Pakistan Housing Authority” for construction of 135,000 apartments under Naya Pakistan Housing Project without considering that two similar foundations namely Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation (PHAF) and Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) are already functioning under M/o Housing & Works and registered as guarantee limited companies with Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan under section 42 of Companies Ordinance 1984 to initiate, launch, sponsor and implement housing schemes for Federal Government Employees on ownership basis in all major cities of Pakistan. The objective of these foundations is defined to eradicate shelterlessness of Federal Govt Employees and to make and assist each one of them, as far as possible, to own a house at the time of retirement or earlier. The performance of these two foundations has not been up to the mark and the projects launched by these Foundations are delayed due to legal, administrative and financial constraints. The progress of work on projects initiated by these two foundations is lacking far behind, besides the quality of work is also very poor and not at all praiseworthy.
FGEHF had initiated a project known as “Barakahu Housing Scheme”, namely (Green Enclave)” in 2009 which is still incomplete due to litigation with the contractor. Similarly another scheme PHASE VII (F-14/15) initiated in 2015 is also delayed, again due to litigation. Their other ongoing scheme also has no different status. FGEHF had failed to answer any query regarding the expected completion of these projects, although in these projects no construction of houses is involved and they are only to hand-over the developed plots to the members. Whenever the employees inquire about the progress of development works on these projects, instead of expected date of completion of the project and handing over of possession of their plots, they receive a traditional advice to get the refund of their deposited amount. Is it so simple or worth an advice for government servants including the retired ones to withdraw their amount after wait of so many years? On the contrary, if the same amount had been kept in National Saving Schemes for the same period, imagine how much they would get back? Nobody in these Foundations or the Ministry of Housing is willing to spare the time to attend to or resolve such issues.
Similarly the PHAF is no different case. Their planning, execution and quality of work may be seen by visiting the G-11/3 Scheme in the heart of the Capital. This project is the best example of incompetency, mismanagement and irresponsible attitude of the Foundation. The project is handed over without providing proper infrastructure facilities and basic utilities like Gas and Water supply etc. Another project was announced by PHAF in 2015 to provide luxury apartments for Grade 20 officers. However recently the Foundation had issued a letter to its members advising to get refund of their deposited money as the CDA is delaying to approve its layout plan. Is it a solution or the level of coordination between the government departments? In both schemes huge of amount hard earned money of government servants is blocked for years, which they had arranged by shelving their other essential requirements. Many of these government servants have since passed away keeping the dreams of owning a house in their eyes. Unfortunately no previous governments had taken serious action nor does the present government seem to be keen to attend to and resolve these issues.
Before launching another authority it would be more appropriate to evaluate the performance of existing institutions and help out to complete their ongoing projects. The future of the existing authorities is also not clear — will they be merged in new or will continue as independent institutions. It would be appropriate if the government reviews its decision of establishing the new Authority and consider the following suggestions: ·Evaluation of existing ongoing projects initiated by FGEHF and PHAF and list out the administrative, legal and other implementation problems/bottlenecks. ·Prepare a revamping plan to handle these issues. ·Merge these two foundations in the proposed new Authority and pool all their deposits/funds, as these have huge reserves, for the completion of their ongoing and the construction of 135000 apartments. ·If any serious bottlenecks exist in ongoing schemes due to which these cannot be completed, then automatically accommodate the members of these schemes in the new scheme. The pooling of funds of these two foundations will help resolve any problem of capital shortage and initial capital would be immediately available to mobilize project provided a rational implementation program is designed. Nation has had very bad experience about housing schemes in country… don’t forget “Islamabad New City” applicants neither got their deposited money back nor any other relief. People expect some better management this time.
—The writer is ex-Chief, Planning Commission of Pakistan.