One-stop online portal eyed to speed up mass housing projects
MANILA, Philippines – To fulfill the backlog of 5.5 million housing units, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) is eyeing an one-stop online portal to help process the documents needed to approve mass housing projects.
HUDCC Assistant Secretary Avelino Tolentino III said Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, HUDCC chairperson, will present a draft Executive Order to President Rodrigo Duterte during the Cabinet meeting on Monday, July 3.
“We are partnering with the Department of Information and Communications Technology and they are going to use their own platforms. Basically, instead of going to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and all other [agencies]… you will go to this portal wherein we are able to have one seamless transaction,” Tolentino said.
This, he said, would cut the 1 to 3 year processing period of housing projects to just 5 months, as earlier directed by Duterte. It also aims to minimize corruption by reducing human-to-human transactions.
Focus group discussions conducted by the HUDCC found that the current system is prone to red tape and corruption.
Tolentino said that at present, developers have to go through 27 offices to secure 79 permits and 373 documents that have a total of 146 signatories.
Aside from the online portal, HUDCC will, in their draft EO, propose the creation of an inter-agency panel to “harmonize the laws and procedures” for the housing sector. A budget of P200 million is eyed for these two initiatives.
Teresita Bautista, Vice President for External Affairs of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, said that the current real estate environment in the country is “not friendly” to private developers wishing to engage in mass housing projects.
Aside from the low budget provided to the sector, the tedious period of processing also discourages private developers. Another result of the faulty system, she said, is the additional costs incurred for construction delays due to delays in securing needed permits. (READ: P100B a year: Can Duterte gov't build enough homes for informal settlers?)
“[Real estate development] is capital intensive… any delay can increase the cost,” said Bautista.
She explained that these higher costs are inevitably passed on to the consumers and beneficiaries of the housing units. (READ: Why P600-a-month housing is still a burden to the poor)
“Necessarily, we have to pass it on to the buyers so until the time when they are able to shorten the process,” she said.
Cutting red tape, Tolentino said, is essential for the provision of shelter for those affected by calamities.
Survivors of 2013's typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) are still having housing shortages, a problem once again highlighted as the country enters the annual typhoon season. There’s also the challenge of rebuilding homes for over 70,359 families who have been displaced due to the siege in Marawi City.
Before her resignation as chair of the HUDCC, Vice President Leni Robredo signed a memorandum of agreement with the with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) to fast-track the issuance of a Certificate of Tax Exemption needed for socialized housing projects. (READ: How the Duterte administration is fast-tracking Yolanda recovery)
Meanwhile, Duterte has set aside P20 billion for the rehabilitation of Marawi City. Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has previously said they are procuring family-sized tents to serve as shelter to the evacuees while the reconstruction is ongoing. – Rappler.com