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Business News of Saturday, 22 December 2012

Source: Graphic Online

Fund for housing in the offing

The Security and Exchange Commission SEC) has begun the development of regulations to guide the establishment of a fund meant to help raise money from within the country to finance the construction of houses for the people.

It will be known as the Real Estate Investment Funds which will be floated on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) for the public to buy.

The Director-General of SEC, Mr Adu Anane Antwi, announced this in Accra on Wednesday during a half day’s seminar for members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ).

He said “we are doing this because we believe that we can use the capital market to raise funds to undertake housing projects that can benefit all of us”.

According to him, when fully operational, there might not be any need for the government to go out in search of funds for such projects.

Mr Anane Antwi said in view of the failed attempts to source funds for housing projects intended to reduce the serious housing deficit in the country; the time had come for the government to look within.

“This fund will not be a unit trust as in the case of many on the market but it will be in the form of shares so that when one sells off his/her shares, there will be another buyer and that means that the fund will not be affected”, he said.

The housing deficit in the country is estimated at about 1.5 million, a situation which is giving landlords a field day because of the high rent charges.

There have been many attempts in the past by governments to bridge the gap but the challenge had been how to raise funds from donors and other investors to be able to carry out any meaningful housing project.

Since the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) washed its hands off such projects, it has become a major bane for governments.

The hundreds of housing units constructed in parts of the country have been left at the mercy of the weather and squatters for lack of funds, while the attempt by the present government to construct 10,000 housing units throughout the country also ended up being hoax; also as a result of lack of dedicated finance and other contractual anomalies.

This, among many others things, is aggravating the housing problem in the country and making those who cannot afford the expensive ones priced in United States dollars, vulnerable in the society.

Mr Anane Antwi was confident that, with the fund, the nightmare in finding dedicated funds from within to undertake such expensive projects will be a thing of the past.

Subsequently, he said, the reviewed Securities Industry Law meant to bring it up to international standards and best practices was currently before Parliament for passage into law.

He expressed the hope that the bill would be passed into law before Parliament rises because of the urgency.

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