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Housing sector, vital to economic growth – Experts

Experts have said the housing sector is very vital to economic growth, noting that government at all levels must come up with plans to boost the sector.

They spoke at the inaugural annual memorial lecture in honour of Otunba Fatai Osikoya organised by the Nigeria Institution of Building in Lagos on Friday.

The Founder, Centre for Values in Leadership, Professor Patrick Utomi, described the housing sector as key driver of economic growth.

According to him, policymakers must come up with plans to ensure anyone who could vote should afford to own a house.

Utomi said, “The bottom line is that we have a huge housing deficit. This shows that housing and building are too important to leave to builders. All of us must be involved in it.

“It shows how much building and the housing sector can play a transforming role for the economic fortunes of Nigeria, so we cannot take it for granted. But can we have the value it takes, can we ensure that the contributions it makes to GDP crystallise?

He further said, “Let us democratise homeownership, anybody who could vote should be able to own a house and the strategy is being able to construct houses so that at 18-21, there is a kind of housing you can afford. That trajectory is what we have not engaged in. If houses are dear and so important, we must be doing a very important job of providing them. If a 21-story building can hang up on those who are developing them, school children will find themselves by the building; they are in and buildings can add to the poor image of our country.”

Utomi added, “Nigeria is getting far fewer investment opportunities than Ghana, part of the reason is that no one is sure of the economic policies that regulators would bring, significantly because of corruption, regulatory risk. The biggest risk of doing business in Nigeria is regulatory risk, it is worse than any market risk you can think of because the mindset of a regulator is that of a bully. Anywhere people have authority in Nigeria, all they want to do is bully until we can reverse that and have an institutional arrangement, then how can we make progress?”

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, said highlighted the need to address the huge housing deficit in the state and the country in general.

She said, “This is coming at a time we seek possible solutions to affordable mass housing, housing delivery and sustainability for Lagos State. I am of the opinion that the floor should be devoted to perusing the issue of housing delivery and homeownership in the country and also proffer solutions to these challenges. Even as government or private investors, we are desirous of the provision of mass housing.

“We are limited by challenges such as affordability in terms of pricing of homes and that of purchasing the property as well as maintenance of the housing range, or the cost of processing the title documentation are issues these for a should begin to address.

“Also, issues relating to the high cost of construction and high cost of land, which in turn is reflected in the cost of the sale price should be addressed.”

source: punch ng

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