PM Imran wants to replace slums with apartments


–Says PTI govt focusing on uplift of lowest segments of society

–Lauds SBP for incentivising banks to lend money to citizens for low-cost housing 


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said it was important for the government to make cash available for the common man in Pakistan to be able to own low-cost houses, as he revealed his plans to regularise Katchi Abadis (urban slums) by replacing them with apartments.

Addressing a ceremony in connection with the launch of State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) finance policy for low-cost housing in Islamabad, PM Imran said ever since his government took office, their focus has been on efforts to lift the lowest segments of society.

He noted that the government’s flagship affordable housing programme will boost 40 other affiliated industries and generate employment in the country.

“We will not let cities in Pakistan expand [horizontally] anymore, we will take the cities upwards,” he vowed, stressing that the expansion of cities was endangering green areas and risked the national food security and environment.

Except for areas with aviation restrictions, citizens will be allowed to build high-rises in commercial areas of Islamabad to whatever heights they prefer, the prime minister announced.

He said the government had an ambitious plan to build five million low-cost housing units in five years, but this would not be possible unless a case regarding foreclosure laws is concluded by the Lahore High Court.

“Everyone wants a home of their own,” the prime minister said, adding that it was important to make cheap financing available for the underprivileged class for them to own houses.

He appreciated the SBP for incentivising banks to lend money to citizens for low-cost housing.

He also lauded the provision of credit through the SBP policy for small farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), saying they were the “backbone” of the economy.

The prime minister noted that the special package in the policy meant for tribal areas would be crucial as the people in those formerly war-torn areas are looking to rebuild their houses and infrastructure. The inclusion of the transgender community and widows in the policy was also “positive”, he added.

Khan said Pakistan had become a country just for “the elite and the powerful” and his government was striving to revert it back to a society with compassion, as envisioned by the country’s founding fathers.