By NBF News
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In a bid to fashion out a way of providing housing finance that would make low cost houses available to low income earners in the country, the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has initiated a discussion with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other relevant stakeholders.

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple disclosed this in Abuja while receiving the governing board of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).

She said the current trend where much of the houses being built are only affordable to those in the high and middle income bracket was unacceptable to the government.

Pepple remarked that the ministry would soon come out with appropriate guidelines for accomplishing that purpose because it seeks to make great impact on a large segment of the populace within a short period of time.

It would be recalled that CBN announced a plan to set up a N200 billion National Housing/Mortgage Intervention Fund as part of efforts to increase access to affordable housing in the country.

Mr. Kola Durojaiye, a Deputy Director, Other Financial Institutions Department (OFID),who disclosed this in Lagos early this year, however noted that the proposed intervention fund would come into effect only after the reforms of the sub-sector.

He said that the reforms would be implemented over a period of 18 to 24 months, during which mortgage banks would be required to recapitalise to a new minimum capital base of N5 billion.

The Minister urged operators in the sector to look into available technology that would hasten the pace of housing delivery, adding that the current traditional mode was too slow for the target the government hoped to meet.

She noted that housing was an important yardstick for measuring the social, economic and health status of any economy, lamenting that Nigeria was burdened with a huge housing deficit.

She blamed the deficit on the nation's land tenure system among other factors and called for urgent steps to redress the trend in order to make life more comfortable for the less privileged.

Earlier, Chairman of the Board of FHA, Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, said the team which had been in place for two years had put in place new processes and procedures for the allocation of houses built by the Authority.

Onyemelukwe said lack of funds was the main challenge facing the Authority and that it was to tackle it that FHA resorted to public private partnerships.

She however noted that houses built through such delivery model were only affordable by high income earners.

She urged the Minister to assist the Authority by taking the issue to government with a view to getting FHA back into the budget.

In his own remarks, FHA's Managing Director, Arc Terver Gemade said the Authority required the Minister's support in pressing for the release of a special construction intervention finance to enable it build houses for low income earners nationwide.