QUEZON CITY – Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Eduardo del Rosario has supported and recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the clamor of partner-developers to resume construction works but with strict compliance to proper health protocols amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a letter to the IATF dated April 27, Secretary Del Rosario stated that the global economic slowdown brought about by the public health crisis is taking its toll in the housing sector, citing temporary layoffs and ballooning losses as among developers’ key concerns.
The DHSUD chief noted that the housing industry accounts for five percent, or roughly around four million, of the country’s total work force and only requires minimal financial and regulatory stimulus from the government.
Likewise, the real estate industry can immediately trigger substantial economic activities particularly in the construction supply chain.
Secretary Del Rosario stressed that housing partner-developers and other stakeholders have been pro-active in enforcing health protocols and implementing measures meant to ease public burden in the housing industry caused by COVID-19, including the continued salaries to their workers despite the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
In the letter, the DHSUD chief suggested the resumption of work in the housing and real estate industry provided that developers follow strict health measures such as observance of social distancing, wearing face masks at all times, establishment of health facilities within worksites and provision of areas where workers can stay under a “productive work-site quarantine” scheme.
He likewise pushed for the capping of interest rates for new and existing housing development loans at 3% for a period of not less than three years until the national economy fully recovers.
The Secretary also mentioned several other key measures such as freezing real property taxes by up to two years and introducing a Housing Financial Assistance Program aimed at jumpstarting the industry by providing soft loans to developers.
“We hope that the above proposals be considered as our government sets its long-term and forward-looking vision for the future of our country,” Secretary del Rosario said.
“Putting the real estate industry back on track at the soonest possible time through appropriate interventions will redound to a multitude of other economic benefits, job opportunities for the people and generate taxes for the government to support huge expenses that will be vital to bring stability amidst this global COVID-19 pandemic, ” he concluded.
The recommendations were an off-shoot of a video conference between Secretary Del Rosario, along with other key DHSUD officials, and officers of the four major real estate developers’ groups in the country last April 23.
Aside from the stoppage of construction works, private developers were also affected by a moratorium on the payment of in-house financing ordered by Secretary Del Rosario to ease the financial burden to the general public.
Last April 3, the DHSUD chief issued a memorandum ordering the moratorium during the ECQ and a grace period of 30 days thereafter on in-house financing of all buyers of lots, house and lots and units from all subdivision and condominium projects of private developers that require registration with the department.
The unpaid dues will be payable within six months or any arrangement mutually agreed upon by the buyer and the developer.