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Friday, 15 June 2007

Towing the Government line

The Times of Zambia appear to have woken up to the housing related issues we have been discussing here. In that blog, I criticised the media for not holding Government to account on this matter. It may be coincidence but am glad they have picked it up today. [Actually to their credit, they also recently picked up on the social investment issue after much blogging here - albeit in a partial way].

"IT is common knowledge that Zambia faces a serious shortage of decent and affordable accommodation especially in urban and peri-urban areas. The situation was made more grave after the local authorities in the country were directed to sell off their housing stocks to sitting tenants under the National Housing Empowerment Policy introduced by the previous administration".
However, like all things State led, the Editor unfortunately insists on towing the Government line:
"It is, therefore, our hope that housing bonds will help provide a solution to the accommodation shortage and local authorities too will take advantage to raise funds and build new houses when the bonds are finally launched. The private sector should move in and invest in this area because the demand for accommodation is evidently abundant and providers of mortgages should seriously re-look at the interest rates they slap on loans".

As we have been discussing, this is just part of the problem in the housing market. Yes there's role for the invisible hand to move briskly, but also there's need for the visible hand of Government to think holistically. As the blog on housing policy suggests, these bonds aren't sufficient to meet our FNDP goals. But credit to the Editor for raising the issue and encouraging debate on it.

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