Since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to break the chain of COVID-19, the economics of the housing sector and various other industries distorted. This was due to a sudden halt on the economic activities across the country. Moreover, migrant labourers lost their work and fled back to their villages that weighed on to the challenges faced by the affordable housing industry. Addressing these, Elets Technomedia Pvt. Ltd. organised the ‘National Housing Summit’ on August 26, 2020.
Delivering his keynote address on the theme, SVR Srinivas, Principal Secretary, Housing Department, Government of Maharashtra, said, “I am of the view that, now, the time has come to go for only affordable housing. This is because due to the COVID pandemic the people are unable to afford houses in big cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, etc.”
Speaking on the improvement in the housing sector, he said, “The policies have to be city-specific not even state-specific. And, even within the city, the rates and demands are localised, therefore, the policies should be able to cater to the location-specific issues.” He also pointed out that under the various policies being implemented through slum development or housing board actually see a less number of housing units being built, hardly 7000-8000, considering the stats of Mumbai. “However, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) was a welcoming step and I am happy to say that the works are being done under it,” he added.
During the pandemic, the issue is about the demand side, how to revive the demand. Secondly, the issue is of liquidity. “So, there is an urgent need to keep the money in the hands of the project promotors or developers or builders etc. A lot of money is taken through premiums so keeping the money in the hands of the project proponents and ensuring that the projects go forward and the various premiums and fee can be backend with safeguarding the government’s interest through sim guarantees etc.” Srinivas said.
How to ensure liquidity and how to ensure fund flow in the projects? This is important because if the project stops for two or three months then, in India, monsoon steps in. And, if there is no fund flow from October to December then the project will be delayed for about a year which simply means interest payments for one year and opportunity cost to be bourne for the year lost. “So, we have to be very nimble-footed as policymakers and respond very quickly in a calibrated manner,” told Srinivas.
Concluding his address he requested the other speakers to deliberate on the two issues majorly, liquidity and demand, through the conference.