Thinley Namgay 

The joint sitting of Parliament passed a recommendation to start a central database for the housing inventory system by the Department of Human Settlement on June 21.    

This was one of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) recommendations to Parliament after reviewing the performance audit report on housing development.  

PAC chairperson and NC member from Paro, Ugyen Tshering presented the report that stated the data on the number of housing structures and units were incomplete, a housing needs assessment was not carried out, an irregular increase of rents in Thimphu and Phuentsholing, and a low proportion of owner-occupied houses.    

The report also stated inadequacy of legal basis for housing development, limited relevance of National Housing Development Policy 2002, lack of a strategic focus on housing development at the policy level, and a lack of a central agency to coordinate housing development activities. 

As per the report, the projected carrying capacity of the Thimphu Structure Plan (2002-2027) has now exceeded by 6,742 people, whereas Phuentsholing will only reach its carrying capacity in the year 2056.   

However, the second recommendation of the committee met some resistance. It recommended establishing a national housing finance entity or mandate the financial institutions to develop and implement affordable financing schemes to promote home ownership and affordable housing. 

Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi said that there was no need for a separate national housing finance entity. He said the government should instead focus on house accessibility, availability and affordability to ensure a home for everyone.    

Drameste-Ngatshang’s  MP,  Ugyen Wangdi, said the new finance entity would hamper the opportunity of existing banks. 

Zhabtog Lyonpo (Works and Human Settlement Minister) Dorji Tshering, said one of the main factors that hinder house affordability is high loan interests. 

Lyonpo said that the construction materials are expensive and take a long time to deliver. 

“The way we build the house should change. People have been building a house by themselves, which led to an increase in rent.  In fact, the house should be built by a real estate builder. The ministry is discussing this,” Lyonpo said. 

The dzongkhags also lack affordable houses. 

Mongar MP, Sonam Pelzom, said that Mongar has housing issues causing problems to office goers and the regional referral hospital staff despite being a regional hub. 

The report stated that National Housing Development Corporation Limited, National Pension and Provident Fund, and the engineering division of Thimphu Thromde were also engaged in housing development. 

Edited by Tshering Palden