THE processing of permits for low-cost housing projects should be streamlined in order to attract more developers to venture into the sector, said Jefferson S. Bongat, president of the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines Inc. (OSHDP), during a forum on “Addressing Socialized and Economic Housing Challenges,” on Thursday.
Seventy permits with more than 200 signatures are needed in order to start a project, he said, citing the latest study that OSHDP conducted with the Center for Housing and Independent Research Synergies, Inc. (CHAIRS).
“It’s highly regulated. You go to different agencies like DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform), DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), even in some areas you need to go get clearances from… Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology), so our main concern now is that because real estate is becoming popular for the last few years… we felt last year that there is an overreaction of regulating the industry,” Mr. Bongat told BusinessWorld after the forum.
Marcelino C. Mendoza, chairman of the board of OSHDP agreed with Mr. Bongat and noted that there are developers who think that developing housing projects is a very complicated business.
“Ang tingin nila ngayon sa housing [The way they see housing], is [it is] a very complicated business. A lot of developers would rather go into high-rise (developments) not housing, not horizontal housing,” Mr. Mendoza told BusinessWorld.
“We want really that ease of doing business should be improved a lot in housing permitting because there are a lot of permits. There are a lot of government agencies that you have to go [to],” he said.
The government could simplify the process as some permits are redundant, said Mr. Bongat, and this should be done before the bill creating the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD) is signed by the president, he noted.
“As we mentioned… we need to close to 70 permits and clearances, and 270 plus signatures. Sana ma-reduce yun…. Some permits can be eliminated already because some of them are really redundant permits,” he said during the interview.
“We are hoping now, together with the CHAIRS, and together with HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council) [that] before magkaroon ng [there is a] department… this issue would be addressed because may [there is] concern [that with a new] department baka bumagal lahat ’yung [there could be a slowdown in] approval nung mga [of the] permits, unlike before it’s regional based. So it’s a big concern talaga na [really since] those delays in those permits attributed a lot of costs… kaya talagang nagmamahal yung housing projects [that is why housing projects become more expensive],” he said during the forum.
The bill creating the DHSUD was transmitted to the Palace on Jan. 16 and is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. This department “shall act as the primary national government entity responsible for management of housing, human settlement, and urban development.”
“It’s not just providing a house kasi [because] building a house is the easiest part. Crafting the program, financing, targeting beneficiaries… doon na dapat magfocus [these should now be given focus],” Mr. Bongat noted in the interview. — Bamba Galang