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Philippine government told to cut red tape in housing development

THE PHILIPPINE government should shorten the application process for housing development projects for ease of doing business, according to a stakeholder.

A home developer must go to 27 offices, get 78 permits, 146 signatures and produce 373 documents to start a subdivision housing project, Januario Jesus B. Atencio III, chairman and chief executive of Januarius Holdings, Inc., told a virtual briefing on Wednesday.

“The unintended consequence of all these housing policies is the increased bureaucracies in getting licenses and permits,” he said.

“The housing imbalance we experience is a supply-side issue,” Mr. Atencio said. “If it’s a supply-side issue, then we can go back to what we know about economics and find out whether it can help us find a way out.”

He said the state should shorten the application for licensing, reduce the required permits and cut the processing time and release of developers’ take-outs or loans. “There should be access to faster, reliable, low-interest loans and credit lines to developers.”

The property developer also cited the need for more skilled workers to stabilize labor supply. The government should likewise allow more foreign workers to offset the emigration of Filipino workers.

Mr. Atencio said that the government should also invest in innovation and technology.

“One thing we should try is to increase our level of technology in the housing industry, particularly in production,” he told the online forum. “We haven’t adopted enough technology. Assuming capital and labor are equal, all growth depends on the level of technology.”

“We can focus on the bureaucracies and shorten the licensing period, which means faster deployment of capital and therefore labor,” he added.

Meanwhile, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in a statement on Tuesday night said local shelter plans could help address the country’s housing backlog.

These plans could be used as a roadmap to analyze housing affordability and create shelter strategies, PIDS said, citing Rowena P. Dineros, a service director at the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development who was a panelist at a recent PIDS webinar.

“Local government units with approved local shelter plans can provide funds, do land banking, partner with the private sector for housing projects or tap the programs of housing agencies appropriate for their constituents,” she said in the statement.

As of November, only 311 of 1,634 local government units have approved shelter plans. About 3.7 million of the 6.5 million units of housing shortage are for informal settler families, the state think tank said, citing the Human Settlements department.

University of Asia and the Pacific President Winston Conrad B. Padojinog, another panelist at the PIDS forum, cited the need for private sector investment to cut the local housing backlog.

“Local government units can provide the land, extend tax incentives, identify beneficiaries, conduct social preparation activities and collect housing rent or fees,” he said. “The private sector can undertake the development, construction and management services of the property.” — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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