7.13.2010

PIA news Service - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Real estate developer uncovers 'unusually timed' Pag-IBIG memo

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – A real estate developer yesterday dug up “an unusually timed” memorandum by the Pag-IBIG Fund that allegedly effectively blocked some 70 percent of potential housing applicants from immediate access to low-cost housing.

Delfin Lee, owner and president of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp., told a news conference here that his firm has invested billions in low-cost housing in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, only to be divested of his investment because of the new memorandum.

The memorandum amended Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) Circular No. 247 that was issued only last February, preventing non-members of Pag-IBIG Fund from immediately obtaining housing loans by paying in lump sum membership dues for one year to entitle them to both immediate membership and loans.

The new memorandum now requires that only those who have been Pag-IBIG members for at least 12 months can avail themselves of such loans.

“This new requirement impacts heavily on families of overseas Filipino workers and is likely to douse the interest of many who abhor red tape,” Lee said.

Lee said he was taken by surprise over the new memo that took effect on July 1, a day after President Aquino was sworn into office.

“We were surprised because the memo was issued to us even later,” Lee said.

The new memo was signed by HDMF executive officer Jaime Fabiana.

Lee estimated that about 70 percent of low-cost housing clients of real estate developers in the country would be affected by the new policy.

He noted that the default rate in the payment of housing amortizations under the Pag-IBIG Fund is only five percent.

“This is quite low and reflects there is no basis for fear in opening up on low-cost housing loans,” he said.

Lee also noted that real estate developers dealing with the HDMF assume payment guarantees for two years on top of a buy-back scheme that can be resorted to in case the housing beneficiary defaults on his amortizations.

These measures, Lee said, have decreased default payment rates from a high of 85 percent to only five percent.

Lee lamented that the new policy was issued after the HDMF raised the contribution of members from P100 to P300 monthly and increasing their salaries way beyond the scope of the Salary Standardization Law.

“Those who used to receive P50,000 in monthly salary now get as much as P300,000,” he said.

In his case, Lee said he even volunteered a five-year guarantee in his two low-cost flagship projects called Xevera in Bacolor and Mabalacat towns in Pampanga that have a complete package of residential, commercial and public establishments in pedestrian-based communities, with free schooling.

“Officials at Pag-IBIG have been there too long so that they have become lazy and have lost the vision to serve,” Lee said.
He cited statistics from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showing that the country has a backlog of 3.7 million houses.

Lee, who had been known to be a supporter of former vice president Noli de Castro’s housing programs during the Arroyo administration, said that last year, the government was able to construct only 180,000 low-cost houses.

“With our population increasing, we have to construct no less than 250,000 units per year for the next 10 years to level up with the backlog,” he said.

Lee added that this could not be done under the restrictive requirement policies now again being enforced by HDMF officials.

Lee said the HDMF has about P214 billion in assets and that it is mandated by law to use 70 percent of these funds for low-cost housing projects.

On the other hand, real estate developers are also mandated to devote 20 percent of their projects for “socialized housing,” offering units costing no more than P400,000.

Lee said HDMF officials are “lazy.” “They put the money in treasury bills and avoid innovative and more challenging work that can fulfill the mission to provide low-cost housing to Filipinos,” he said.

Lee also criticized the efforts of the HDMF to allocate funding for housing each year.

“They compute the interest the HDMF can earn from housing loans per year and this is what they also make available for loans. This is anomalous since the policy takes into account only the interest, regardless of the principal contribution of its members,” he lamented.

Lee called on the Aquino administration to replace the HDMF officials and appoint people “who are progressive-minded and service-oriented.”

But Lee stressed that he is not interested in any government post.

“This is the most opportune time to build low-cost housing as interest rates are low. We must grab the opportunity,” he said. (Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star)



Developers back Pag-IBIG Fund's new loan policy

MANILA, Philippines - The Subdivision and Housing Developers’ Association (SHDA) Inc., and the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers (OSHDP) of the Philippines, two of the country’s biggest groups of housing developers issued a statement yesterday saying they support the new Home Development
Mutual Fund (HDMF) policy on membership contribution requirements (amended HDMF circular No. 247.)

SHDA national president Manuel C. Crisostomo said that “it is just but wise and timely for Pag-IBIG Fund to re-examine their requirement for membership contribution vis-a-vis loan availment. “Crisostomo added that “regular members who have been religiously paying their membership contributions should be given priority in the extension of HDMF benefits and services. The practice of allowing instant membership has opened the home lending program of Pag-IBIG Fund to abuse by some unscrupulous developers to the disadvantage of members who have been contributing to the Fund for a long time already.”

For her part, OSHDP national president Linda Tan pointed out that “The amendment to HDMF Circular 247, has been discussed thoroughly with the developers in the HDMF/SHDA/OSHDP technical working group meetings since early this year, contrary to what some quarters claim as a surprise move by Pag-IBIG Fund. The technical working group has been the venue for the Fund and the private developers in discussing policy changes which will improve housing delivery before they are implemented. And as a result of this continuing dialogue with developers, Pag-IBIG Fund deferred full implementation of this circular to give ample time for borrowers and developers to adjust accordingly.”

The SHDA and OSHDP are the biggest groups of developers directly responsible in the production of some 250,000 housing units annually. OSHDP produces up to 95 percent of the inventories for socialized housing.

Both Crisostomo and Tan stressed that there should be a levelling of the playing field in the housing industry, and for the private sector to be vigilant and participative with the government in the continuous review, evaluation and improvement of housing policies and programs. They also expressed confidence in the competence of the present Pag-IBIG Fund officers and support their efforts in improving the Pag-IBIG Housing Loan Program.
(The Philippine Star)
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DOT-Caraga chief calls private sectors to lead in tourism-related activities

By: Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY (14 July) – Department of Tourism (DOT) Caraga Regional Director Leticia DC Tan on Wednesday (July 14) calls on the private sectors to take part and lead in the implementation of tourism-related activities to uplift the tourism industry in the country.

The regional tourism chief here emphasized her call during the conduct of the stakeholders’ meeting in connection with the 21st Philippine Travel Mart Road Show Presentation held in one of the local convention centers, this city.

Dir. Tan challenges the private stakeholders to take part in the implementation of plans and programs of the tourism industry, instead of the government. “Let’s show to the world that in Caraga Region, private stakeholders will lead in the implementation of tourism-related activities,” she said.

Also, Dir. Tan pointed out that an academe must have a good relationship with tourism-related business and establishments by aligning the tourism curriculum of every universities and higher education institutions in the region.

As to the future plans of the department, she said the tourism regional office is still on the process of aligning its tourism plan with the mandates of the DOT national administration. “We must have a good tourism plan in Caraga Region in support to the plans and programs to be initiated by the new Secretary and officials of DOT Central Office,” Dir. Tan said.

Further, Tan said, infrastructure, services and amenities must be taken into consideration in making a concrete development plan “because these are part of the tourism industry,” she said. (PIA-Caraga)