Sisulu looks to private sector on housing

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BR Susulu 4814 Independent Newspapers Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu hopes to convince the Treasury to agree to incentives for businesses. File picture: Willem Law

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is hoping to convince the Treasury to agree to the introduction of incentives to encourage the private sector to get involved in the provision of social housing.

Sisulu also wants every private sector entity, as part of their social responsibility obligations, to put something into housing.

In an exclusive interview with Business Report yesterday, Sisulu said that the private sector had made it very clear there had to be something “in it for us” for them to come on board and recommit to another social compact on the provision of social housing.

“We have to make it attractive for them to come on board. I have an appointment to see the [finance] minister. Incentives exist in various other forms for the private sector for various reasons. I think this one is very necessary.

“The story of Marikana and the conditions there just doesn’t need to be repeated for anybody to see that we really need to do something about the conditions in which our people live,” she said.

“It degrades a person and does not give them the necessary dignity that any human being would require to behave in accordance with their responsibility.”

She said she would like to find a way of defining and quantifying the social responsibility of entities towards housing, noting that she was shocked to find a housing entity, the National Housing Finance Corporation, had allocated its social responsibility obligation towards saving the whales.

Sisulu has arranged another housing indaba, which will take place in Pretoria at the end of next month, where she hopes to get private sector entities to recommit to a housing social compact similar to what had occurred in 2004.

This, apart from commitments from other stakeholders, led to the major banks committing in terms of the financial services charter to provide R42 billion towards loans for social housing.

The minister added that the government would like the banks to concentrate now on the provision of mortgage finance for rental housing stock, which would also help to address affordability issues in the housing market.

She said her department would like to hear from people involved in social housing about their successes and challenges and how her department could assist them.

She confirmed there had been a 25 percent to 30 percent decline in the delivery of housing in the past five years but did not as yet know the reason for this reduction other than it was because of “problems in the pipeline”. The previous housing social compact had laid the foundation for faster housing delivery and 275 000 houses were delivered in the department’s 2007/08 financial year, she added.

Her belief then was that delivery could only improve from that level and with the experience gained and knowledge about blockages in the system, about 500 000 houses would now be delivered each year.

She is hopeful that the planned government employees housing scheme will be up and running soon, noting that an agreement had been signed by the various stakeholders, including the unions and bargaining council.


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