THE Housing and Local Government Ministry should review its decision to stop building the People’s Housing Project (PPR), says Penang Local Government, Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo.
He said the new development came as a shock to him as Penang has been seeking the Federal Government to assist in building PPR projects in the five districts of the state, starting with a site in Jelutong on the Penang island.
Jagdeep said Local Government and Housing Minister Zuraida Kamarudin had informed all the chief ministers, including Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, and mentris besar in a letter dated Aug 20, that the Federal Government would not continue building PPR projects as they would incur a high cost.
“This is something new and is of concern to me. In fact, it’s a very big blow to us. We’ve been waiting even before the 14th General Election for PPR projects,” Jagdeep told reporters when he visited the ongoing Warisan Tanjung housing project at Tanjong Tokong today.
“Penang has the least number of PPR homes among all the states. We’ve only 999 units out of 120,000 units in Malaysia.
“Although I am very close to Zuraida, I don’t agree with this particular move. It is the social obligation of a government to take care of those who cannot even afford a low-cost unit.”
Jagdeep also said he disagreed with the ministry’s suggestions that the state government build the PPR projects, now rebranded as Program Perumahan Malaysia, with private partnership (under Request For Proposal) and sell them at between RM90,000 and RM300,000 per unit.
“This is beyond our understanding. There are some, especially from the B40 group, who could not even access low-cost homes at RM42,000. Moreover, as we are paying taxes to the Federal Government, they should be the ones subsidising the projects.
After GE14, I see there is bright hope because the ministry asked us to identify sites for PPR projects. In fact, the ministry sent their people to come and inspect the sites. Suddenly, we received this letter. So, the ministry has to review this decision.”
Chow, in a press conference later, said he concurred with Jagdeep’s views and also called on the ministry to review its decision.
Under the PPR projects, he said the hardcore poor rent the unit at RM124 per month, inclusive of RM24 maintenance fee, until they are financially able to upgrade to low-cost status.
Jagdeep said the Federal Government would normally ask the state government to identify a site for a PPR project, finance it and then hand it the state government to manage it.
He reiterated that the Penang government would maintain its low-cost homes at RM42,000, low medium-cost homes at RM72,500 and affordable homes (RM300,000 for island and RM250,000 for mainland).
Jagdeep added that some states have raised the ceiling prices for low-cost homes to RM60,000 and low medium-cost homes to RM100,000.
He said the actual construction cost of building a low-cost unit, excluding land price, is about RM150,000 but the state government has a policy for developers to lower the price through their corporate social responsibility and cover their losses with their high-end projects.
On complaints by low-cost and low medium-cost house buyers to the Consumer of Penang that they have been arm-twisted by developers by having to pay for parking lot and renovation packages at a high price, Jagdeep said that arrangement was on a ‘willing buyer willing seller’ basis.
But he warned developers that action would be taken if there was a complaint against them for forcing house buyers to take up the parking lot and renovation packages.
Meanwhile, UDA Land Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Zainudin Deni said the phase one of the Warisan Tanjung project to resettle some squatters and TOL (temporary occupation licence) residents in Tanjung Tokong was now 97% complete.
It consists of 550 units, with 210 units of 850sq ft each and 340 units of 800sq ft each. A total of 650 units will be built under the second phase.
Some of the squatters and residents, who are now staying at a transit longhouse in Desiran Tanjung, near Straits Quay, are expected to move in by the first quarter of next year.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Chan Kok Kuan