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Baan Ua-Athorn cheap housing scheme set to expand

The National Housing Authority (NHA) will propose in the coming weeks that the Social Development and Human Security Ministry expand the Baan Ua-Athorn low-income housing scheme’s target from 285,000 to between 385,000 and 485,000 units.

The request supports the new government’s policy to provide housing for poor people nationwide, NHA governor Vitoon Chaisakul said after last Friday’s Cabinet meeting. “If the Cabinet approves the plan, we will start the project as soon as possible. The process will take three to four months to implement,” Vitoon said.

Baan Ua-Athorn was launched in 2005 as one of the populist policies of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The project, which initially targeted building 600,000 housing units, saw the NHA’s debt rise to Bt100 billion, until the Democrat government under Abhisit Vejjajiva revised the target down to 285,000 units. The agency’s debt now stands at Bt40 billion.

There are currently 50,000 Baan Ua-Athorn units for sale, which the NHA had aimed to sell in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

However, under the new government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the Social Development and Human Security Ministry has announced a plan for fiscal 2012 to 2015 that would see the construction of between 100,000 and 200,000 units. “We will revise our plan to include the construction of [Keha Chomchun project] low-income housing under the Baan Ua-Athorn scheme, along with the first-homebuyer [Baan Pathompom] project to support the demand for low-price residences located close to the mass-transit system,” Vitoon said.

In accordance with this plan, the NHA will propose that the Cabinet increase its subsidiary budget from an average Bt80,000 per unit to Bt120,000 per unit. This will allow the development of Baan Ua-Athorn units at a price lower than Bt600,000 per unit and Baan Pathompom units at prices below Bt1 million each. This will support people who earn between Bt15,000 and Bt30,000 per month, Vitoon said.

Meanwhile, the NHA plans to open bidding for private firms to develop the Baan Ua-Athorn and Baan Pathompom at below Bt1 billion per project, which would mean they are not subject to the Public-Private Joint Venture Act. The policy is designed to reduce the NHA’s business risk.

“We will also offer a new service to provide mortgages for poor people whose credit histories are insufficient to qualify them for loans from commercial banks,” Vitoon said.

Should the Cabinet approve an increase in the total target for the Baan Ua-Athorn project to 485,000 units, the NHA will needs to secure loans worth Bt50 billion to develop the new units and finance homebuyers to the tune of Bt10 billion to Bt20 billion a year. The government will also need a budget of Bt24 billion to subsidise the project, he said.

Source: The Nation

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