Non-public corporations can construct extra properties if allowing is quicker — 8990 chair

GOVERNMENT can support private entities by making it easier for them to get permits, the founder of listed developer 8990 Holdings, Inc. said in response to the administration’s call for more housing units.

“It’s very challenging to come up with a million houses ’cause we’ve never experienced building a million houses in the Philippines,” 8990 Holdings Chairman and Co-founder Mariano D. Martinez, Jr. told BusinessWorld in an interview last week.

He was referring to the government’s plea for the private sector to do its part in supporting the “Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino” program, which aims to build one million affordable and accessible homes in selected areas each year.

The program’s goal is to clear a housing backlog of 6.5 million before the end of the Marcos administration.

“To achieve that, they really have to support the private sector, especially with regards to timetables because one of the hardest hurdles or longest hurdles is the permitting process,” Mr. Martinez said.

He described the permitting process as passing through several government agencies for two years.

“That needs to be addressed. I don’t know how they are going to address that but if they want to achieve a million houses that should really [be a] number one [priority],” Mr. Martinez said.

He said that the government should be able to cut the length of time to secure permits to six months from 24 months.

Meanwhile, Mr. Martinez said that the next hurdle would be the implementation and construction of low-cost housing projects.

“It’s no joke to fund a million houses neither is it a joke to make sure that the supplies or construction materials are [sufficient],” he said.

Given the hurdles, Mr. Martinez said that although 8990 Holdings will participate in the low-cost housing program, it might wait on the sidelines first.

“Of course, we will help but I’m really just doing a wait-and-see attitude on how the [government] plans to implement it,” he said.

During the National Developers Convention 2022 last week, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Jose Rizalino L. Acuzar said that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. had given the directive to implement the program.

The department said the program will require P1 trillion to realize at a cost of P1 million per home, which the agency plans to subsidize. It also plans to tap private companies, developers, and banks to participate.

The agency said it proposed a budget of P36 billion yearly to be used as a subsidy to be able to achieve the expected preferential interest of 1% for home buyers. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

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