Three Bills related to solving housing issues to be tabled in the Parliament next time

Yangchen C Rinzin

The mode of construction is one of the factors responsible for high rents in towns and it has not changed, according to the works and human settlements minister. 

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said that this along with the price of land, raw materials, and financing has led to high rents and unaffordable housing in urban areas. 

The ministry formed a task force that is working on the unaffordable housing issue.  

Lyonpo told Kuensel that when construction cost is compared with rent, the rent is actually not exorbitant. 

“So, apart from the budget, the most important issue we diagnosed was to change the system like mechanisation of building,” Lyonpo said. “Land, raw materials, or the cost of construction are not the only ways to bring down the rent.”

For instance, today every builder constructs a house by procuring raw materials and constructing scaffolding, after which excess materials and scaffoldings are discarded.   

“Then these costs are added to the building whereby it adds to the rent,” Lyonpo said. “We realised this was not a good practice so we want to come up with a system where consolidated builders of about 10 would take up the construction to share the raw materials.”

This is expected to reduce the cost. National Housing Development Corporation Limited is also working on constructing 2,500 affordable units. 

“We must come up with a concrete solution to provide affordable housing and the only way is through the mode of construction,” Lyonpo said. “We already have a housing policy and a national human settlement policy, and the task force has realised there is a need to approve three other policies.”

Lyonpo said that the task force was formed to have a better understanding of housing issues and also to work on ideas like policy, budget, and short or long-term solutions to provide 2,500 units of houses.  

The ministry has also secured USD 30 million to inject into the housing sector to come up with solutions to unaffordable housing not just for the civil servants but also private individuals.  

Lyonpo told Kuensel that they would be putting up three Bills to the Parliament—Housing Bill to reduce the cost of construction, house ownership, Spatial Planning Bill to look into the planning prospects, and Construction Bill on how to do construction. 

“These three Bills, if approved, would solve housing issues in many ways,” Lyonpo said. 

Edited by Tshering Palden