COOPERATIVE HOUSING: LEARNING FROM INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

AROUND THE WORLD

In my previous blog, I referred to Prime Minister’s 100 days agenda relating to construction of 5.00 million houses in five years as one of the factors that will lead to set future trends in real estate sector of the country. Now after surpassing 100 days of the present government and recent development of other significant events, directly associated with housing sector, one just cannot find himself in a comfortable position to invest in the sector.  The announcement for the constitution of “Naya Pakistan Housing Authority” as a first step, towards the long term commitment of the present government, has yet to spread its wings to show its direction. The anti-encroachment drive, restrictions applied on construction of high rise apartment buildings (now allowed), higher interest rates, unstable currency and reduction in development expenditure, all lead to overall economic recession along with correction of real estate sector. Furthermore, the creation of a separate Directorate of Immovable Properties by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to curb taxation issues of the sector has yet to make its impact on the sector as well.

Country’s Economic managers, after having evaluated five months performance of the present government, are now looking towards the upcoming budget proposals of the new government, which are likely to start from February this year. This will perhaps clarify the future trends and bring stability in the market for the upcoming financial year. Till such time the market is in a wait & see mode.

However, after listening Prime Minister’s 100 days agenda performance speech, wherein he focused on livestock and organic hen farming, which unfortunately became a laughing stock, I wonder why the true concept of Cooperatives has not been considered by the government, despite focusing local body empowerment and community based management system (CBMS) in the country. Although the history of Pakistani Cooperatives is not so good enough, yet the hidden potential of the cooperative sector, towards sustainable economic development, can bring the desired results by adopting accountability and good governance measures.

cooperatives

“Cooperatives in Pakistan” is a debatable issue. The topic is full of merits and demerits and one can identify the reason for its minimum contribution in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Quite interestingly, as against current contribution of 7%, Iran has set a target of 25% contribution of Cooperatives towards its GDP by 2021. There are 160,000 registered cooperatives in Iran operating in 120 fields, including agriculture, services, housing, transportation and production, etc.  This is one aspect of understanding the importance of cooperatives for sustainable economic growth. Similarly the housing cooperatives, especially international cooperatives play a significant role in reducing their respective housing issues to a greater extent. Pakistan can also take advantage from their experiences in tackling this issue.

homeless

ICA Housing, a sectoral organization of the International Co-operative Alliance, with more than 30 member countries worldwide, including Pakistan, was established to promote the development of cooperative housing in various developing countries around the world. The objective of the organization was to facilitate developing countries in solving problems of providing shelter to homeless individuals.

The best way of learning from the international experience is to organize seminars and conferences on this vital issue. There has to be a clear demarcation of the grey areas and the apprehension regarding cooperatives as a “wolf in a sheep’s clothing “must be addressed accordingly.

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