THE Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara on Tuesday stated that the Bill to amend the Federal Government Housing Loan Board to administer housing loan scheme to public sector workers would bring succour to public servants by bridging the housing deficit and increasing productivity in the public sector.
Dogara stated this in Abuja while declaring open a public hearing on the bill organised the House of Representatives Committee on Public Service Matters
The Speaker who was represented by the House Minority Whip, Hon Yakubu Bada explained that the amendment, when it scaled through, would make mortgage facilities more accessible to public servants at lower interest rates than the ones offered by commercial banks.
According to him, “this Bill has come at a right time to give succour to civil servants opportunity to have access to housing scheme for the purpose of owning a house. Research has shown that as at September 2016, the lowest recorded interest rate on any mortgage in Nigeria is 19 percent and requires 25 percent down payment.
“The question is how many civil servants can afford a mortgage under such harsh conditions? It is our objective that when this Bill becomes law, most civil servants will have access to a house of their own. I sincerely believe that this Bill will go a long way in bridging the housing deficit and increasing productivity in our public sector.”
The Speaker pointed out that it was on record that most public servants could not secure accommodation in Abuja due to high cost of rents, with majority of civil servants living in Nasarawa and Niger States and commuting to work in Abuja every day from long distances, thereby having an effect on productivity that was better imagined than experienced.
He recalled that during the 2017 Housing Summit organised in Abuja by Housing Circuit Magazine in partnership with other stakeholders, it was revealed that as at 1991, when the National Housing Policy was enacted, Nigeria had a housing deficit of seven million units but as at today, the housing deficit had grown alarmingly to seventeen 17 million and would continue to grow.
The Speaker, therefore, urged the stakeholders to proffer solutions on how to administer the Housing Scheme for Federal Public Officers in order to reduce and or eliminate the overall housing deficit in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Gogo Bright Tamuno disclosed that the amendment and the public hearing became necessary in order to expand the scope of the law so as to be able to accommodate those Agencies such as the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC among others that were not in existence at the inception of the law.