Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury has said reckless practices resorted to by real estate business have led to exorbitant land prices in the capital, making housing increasingly unaffordable for low-income people.
He made the comment last week at a seminar organized by Dhaka Chamber of commerce and Industry (DCCI) at Sonargaon Hotel in the city on “challenges of real estates in urbanization and decentralization.”
The mister said “It is you, the real estate developers, who should be blamed for turning landowners greedy by offering abnormal land prices and property shares,” Chowdhury said at a seminar on ‘Challenges of real estate in urbanisation and decentralisation’.
He said purchase of huge tracts of land by business conglomerates and the real estate developers offering around 60 percent ownership of the built property, along with signing money to the plot owners, have given rise to abnormal land prices.
The minister asked the realtors how the government could help the sector while they are escalating prices. “We don’t want reckless urbanisation,” said Chowdhury, adding, “Change the mindset and develop affordable housing; not only for the wealthy.”
Replying to realtors’ criticism that the government was a competitor instead of being a regulator and facilitator, the land minister said, “Nothing would be possible in the country had the government not been business-friendly.”
But the bureaucrats still have to be more business-friendly and they are surely becoming so, he said.“I have private business experience and I know how to get things done,” Chowdhury said, adding that somehow Bangladesh’s development has been Dhaka-centric.
DCCI President Osama Taseer said the real estate sector now employed 28 lakh people and the number was projected to increase to 33 lakhs by the year 2020.
Decentralisation of Dhaka city was the only possible way to develop urban areas in other districts, but the sector remained trapped in the cycle of centralisedurbanisation in the capital, he said.
He suggested that an independent rating system need to be used to assess the quality of real estate products.Kazi Golam Nasir, chief architect of the Department of Architecture, in his keynote, said constant migration from rural areas was the main challenge to appropriate urbanization. It is increasing pressure on available utility services.
Citing that the country’s real estate businesses contribute eight percent to the GDP, he said the sector lacked adequate professionals and suggested developers may get some tax incentives in exchange for saving top soil, greenery and overuse of ground water.
Alamgir Shamsul Alamin, president of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh, said real estate developers had so far delivered two lakh apartments and 70,000 plots since the association’s inception.
Without creating housing, education and medical facilities outside Dhaka city, decentralisation is not possible, he said.North Dhaka Mayor MdAtiqul Islam and Salim Akhter Khan, chairman of Asset Developments and Holdings Limited, among others also spoke during the seminar.