Affordable Housing Still Unattainable for Many
By Moe Myint 4 March 2017
RANGOON — In an effort to build low cost and affordable housing across Burma, the Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Association (MCEA) and Singapore-based consultancy Surbana Jurong signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at Sule Shangri-La Hotel on Friday morning.
Government-owned Surbana Jurong has played a role in urban development and public housing in Singapore. The company entered Burma in 2013 and has provided construction design and technical consultations for various projects in Rangoon, said CEO Teo Eng Cheong, adding that they will now consult MCEA on affordable housing projects.
Representatives from both entities said they had been appointed by the Union government to complete 1 million homes by 2030, primarily to house retired government officials, married couples and families.
“We will deliver these apartments to people who really need them,” said U Tha Aye.
MCEA chairman U Tha Htay said they have not yet selected the locations or set prices for the projects in respective states and divisions, but will do so after consulting regional governments.
MCEA is expected to begin the project early in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The MCEA roughly specified that low cost housing would be built in four different sizes: 400, 500, 550-600, and 750-1000 square feet. Market prices will be determined by region.
U Tha Aye said, “We will construct low cost houses but standardize quality.”
Surbana Jurong consulted on the Ayeyarwon and Yadanar housing projects that were officially opened by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in December 2016. Real estate experts criticized the prices there as “robbery,” when they sold 600 square foot apartments for 60-70 million kyats (US$45,000-50,000).
The Rangoon divisional government has adopted a five-year plan to build 180,000 apartments between fiscal year 2016-17 and 2020-21, according to state-owned media.
To implement the projects, the Ministry of Construction established the Construction and Housing Development Bank (CHDB) in 2014 to sell apartments on installment plans. Low cost houses could be purchased with a 30 percent down payment and the remainder being paid monthly over a variable number of years.
A resident of east Dagon Township, Ei Ei Myat Thu, criticized the plan stating that the down payment was still high considering that these were supposed to be affordable housing projects.
North Okkalapa resident Ko Yone Nge agreed and suggested that the government decrease the down payment to 1 million kyats.
“An initial payment of three million kyats is unimaginable. How can a causal laborer pay that? It’s still just dream for us.”
The MCEA has suggested the government reduce the down payment from 30 to 15 percent if they can get long-term loans from international bodies.