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Mahama wants to use SSNIT contributions to solve housing problems

Former President John Dramani Mahama has promised to fix the housing challenges of citizens if voted into office for a second term in the December polls.

The flagbearer of the opposition NDC has promised to use Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions to help workers to buy houses.

Highlighting the key areas of the 2020 NDC manifesto, Mr Mahama said his government will “amend National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766) to allow workers who have contributed for a period of 10 to 15 years to use their contributions as collateral to access mortgage loans”.

The party said the manifesto was people-centred with the theme as ‘Jobs, Prosperity and More’.

Mr Mahama unveiled the promises at the launch of the party’s manifesto on Monday, September 7, three months into the elections.

The NDC manifesto preceded that of their rivals, the NPP, who had also announced a package to help workers.

Currently, Ghana has a housing deficit of about 2.5 million housing units and needs some 200,000 units per annum. But only 40% of this annual need is met, the B&FT has reported.

Landlords do not make it easy as they continue to flout rent laws by charging two years in advance even the limit is six months.

Government has acknowledged the huge gap and the NPP administration also promised a provision of GH¢1billion Mortgage and Housing Finance Fund which was announced in the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy.

The government is expected to facilitate affordable local currency-denominated mortgage loans to low- and middle-income earners to finance estate constructions.

Under the scheme, the banks engaged are to provide cheap financing arrangements as low as 12 per cent at Stanbic Bank and 11.9 per cent at Republic Bank.

Government is also collaborating with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to deliver some 100, 000 new affordable housing units by 2022.

Additionally, the Ministry of Finance announced in December 2019 that it was entering into a partnership with GCB Securities to establish the first Affordable Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to purchase properties and rent them at affordable rates to public sector workers for a period of 15 to 20 years after which they pay a residual value to own it.

REIT has identified properties at TDC Community 22 Affordable Housing Enclave for the pilot phase.

Ghana has several uncompleted affordable housing projects.

Under former President John Agyekum Kufuor, a similar project began in 2006 and was to be completed by December 2007 at a cost of $300m.

There were several other project sites in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Koforidua in the Eastern Region, Borteman and Kpone in the Greater Accra Region.

Some 1,640 low-cost housing units were to sit on 300 acres of Kpone land. The works on the two other sites were to bring the total housing project to 4,700 units.

Funds for the project from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as well as HIPC funds for the project have run out.

The Mahama government did not continue the project. It started a new one, the 5,000 Saglemi affordable housing project which is now a subject of criminal investigations.

The new one has come to a standstill. But the government has secured $51m to now complete the old one under Kufuor administration.

The NDC has also pledged to pay pensioners an annual thirteenth-month bonus and utilise tier 2 contributions to set up a Mortgage Assistance Fund to support workers to own their homes.

The opposition party has vowed to continue the SSNIT affordable housing projects across the country in partnership with the private sector.

 

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