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As China’s Housing Boom Cools, Insurer Ping An and Developer Cifi Shift Focus to Rental market

The real estate investment platform of Ping An Insurance has joined Shanghai-based developer Cifi Holdings to launch a 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) rental home investment and management business, targeting affordable living for those who have yet to get on the housing ladder.

The two companies announced on Thursday they would co-invest in a batch of rental home projects in first- and second-tier mainland cities over the next three years.

The investment and management platform will also engage in acquisition, redevelopment, management and asset securitisation of the rental home businesses, they said.

Zhu Zhengjian, general manager and chief operating office of Ping An Real Estate, said the company would seek to boost total assets of rental homes to 200 billion yuan in 10 years by securing more partnerships.

The announcement marked a milestone in China’s rental home sector because it was the first time that a cash-rich institution and a leading developer committed to building and managing residential properties for lease, an untapped area in the country’s real estate market.

More than 200 million people are renters in China, according to global property services firm JLL.

In Shanghai, the demand for rental homes is expected to hit 4 million units, far exceeding the available supply.

Beijing has been encouraging growth in the home leasing market to accommodate new urban immigrants who lack the means to buy.

The central government stipulated in 2017 that tenants and homeowners enjoy equal residence rights and equal access to public services such as education and health care, a move intended to make renting more attractive to young professionals.

“Residential properties for leasing are increasingly becoming a new force to help ease the housing problem,” said Lin Zhong, chairman of Cifi. “This is a market with greater potential and Cifi hopes to be a top player in the segment.”

Cifi and Ping An are developing their first rental project at Pujiang Town of Minhang district in Shanghai.

The development, after completion, will offer 2,100 flats for lease.

The six major cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Chengdu will have 750,000 newly completed rental homes by 2022, reflecting a sixfold increase over the current stock of 135,000 units, according to JLL.

Ping An Real Estate, whose parent is one of the mainland’s most powerful financial conglomerates, has assets of more than 340 billion yuan under management.

Cifi, one of the fastest-growing developers in the country, posted a 36 per cent jump in underlying profits to 5.54 billion yuan for 2018 on revenue of 42.4 billion yuan.

By Sandy Li

Poor Housing Conditions Contribute to Spreading of TB Among Inuit

Improving housing conditions among Inuit in Canada may reduce the occurrences of tuberculosis in the population.

The fact that Inuit in Canada run a significantly higher risk for contracting tuberculosis than does the rest of the Canadian population has been known for a long time. In 2016, the occurrence of tuberculosis was 300 times higher amongst the Inuit than among the Canadian non-indigenous population.

Trudeau apologized in March

Canada’s authorities have promised to work to eradicate tuberculosis among Inuit in the Canadian north and as recently as in March, PM Justin Trudeau apologized to the Inuit for the treatment this groups has been subject to during the tuberculosis epidemics in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to the Inut for the treatment they were subject to in the mid-1900s. Here the PM is embracing one of the participants at a meeting in Iqaluit, the Nunavut capital. (Copyright: Justin Trudeau)

Poor housing standards spread disease

Improving housing standard may significantly improve the situation, the scientists argue.

The new study concludes that even minor and stepwise improvements of housing standards, as well as a reduction of the number of residents per room, may prove a significant contribution to improving the situation and preventing the spreading of TB in the population.

Scientists point out e.g. the fact that climatic conditions prevent someone from living outdoors, like some do in city areas further south in the country. Among the Inuit, this leads people to coach curving – living temporarily – with friends, acquaintances and/or relatives for shorter or longer periods of time.

This contributes to increased spreading of tuberculosis.

Half the houses should be upgraded

In the Nunavut capital Iqaluit, one of the communities in which the study was conducted, five percent of the population did not have permanent housing and were living temporarily in other people’s homes. The scientists conclude that half of the houses in Nunavut were too crowded or in dire need of an upgrade – or both – during the year the studies were conducted.

The group of scientists stresses in its Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health article that other social conditions also influence the rather high occurrence of TB amongst the Inuit in Canada and on Greenland, where former studies have established that the occurrence of tuberculosis is very high also among Greenland’s Inuit population.

Diet, smoking, alcohol and low-level education

Both this study as well as former studies point at poor diet, smoking of tobacco and marihuana, high use of alcohol, low education level and ethnic affiliation as key factors for the frequency of tuberculosis amongst Inuit.

Reference is for instance made to the fact that while 16 percent of the Canadian population over the age of 12 smoke on a daily basis, that number is a staggering 63 percent among Inuit in Nunavut.

Introduced by European people

The heightened occurrence of tuberculosis among ethnic Inuit is also explained by the fact that the indigenous people was not introduced to European people groups until the past century, and they have thus not had sufficient time to build up genetical resistance against the disease.

The researchers’ conclusion in the new study is nevertheless clear: Improving housing conditions for Inuit in Nunavut will contribute significantly to reducing the spreading of tuberculosis in the population.

Brexit Crisis Inflates Fall in Property Market

The decline in London house prices is accelerating with the property market dropping at its fastest rate in a decade at the start of the year, new figures reveal recently.

The average price of a London home fell 3.8 per cent to £455,594 in the three months to March compared with the same period in 2018, according to a survey from leading lender Nationwide.

That was the biggest drop since the depth of the property market rout that followed the financial crisis in 2009 and wiped £18,182 off the average value.

It was also the seventh consecutive quarter when prices have fallen since the last rise in the spring quarter of 2017.  The latest lurch downwards comes amid the political chaos over Brexit that has put off many buyers from entering the market in turbulent conditions, although some agents have reported a pick up in interest in recent weeks. Guy Gittins, managing director at agents Chestertons said: ”It was almost inevitable that the uncertainty of Brexit would drag property prices down, especially as the date gets closer and many buyers take a ‘wait -and- see approach’.

“However, we have experienced an incredibly busy start to the year, with a sharp increase in buyer registrations, viewings and offers, which reflects pent-up demand and suggests that prices are now at a level that buyers are comfortable buying.

“I therefore see this drop as a temporary blip, and expect prices to recover once the market has more clarity on Brexit.” Jonathan Hopper, managing director of buying agents Garrington Property Finders, said: “On the front line we’re seeing increasingly aggressive offers from buyers, who feel emboldened by their strong position and are dictating the pace of the market.

“With what should have been Brexit Day reduced to the status of just another milestone in a Brexit process leading who knows where, and who knows when, this year’s spring bounce is nowhere to be seen.”

The Nationwide survey showed that prices in the “Outer Metropolitan” commuter belt are also dropping with a two per cent fall to £355,978 while across the broader south east they were down 1.1 per cent at £274,122.

Source: Sunng

View from India: Technology for housing, highways and road networks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared April 2019-March 2020 as the ‘Construction-Technology’ year.

Close on the heels of this announcement, a high-rise building has been in the news recently. Kolkata, once the seat of the British Raj, is now home to ‘The 42,’ a 268-metre tall ultra-premium residential project.

As the demand for rapid urbanisation is increasing, Modi has stressed the need for eco-friendly, disaster-resilient and energy-efficient construction.

To boost the housing sector, the Government of India (GoI) has implemented national programmes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana; Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana; National Urban Livelihoods Mission; HRIDAY; AMRUT and Smart Cities. These programmes can be implemented only if there’s a skill-ready workforce to take it forward. Clearly, this means that the local talent needs to be nurtured. This explains why the government is working on systematic reforms to fine-tune the engineering and technology curriculum in colleges.

The thrust is on innovative technology and high-tech engineering in order to meet the growing requirement. Low-cost mass housing projects are being planned as per the government policy which envisions ‘House for all by 2020.’

From a technology standpoint, prefab technology is a good option for low-cost housing. Besides being earthquake resistant, it doesn’t require foundations. The houses, which take a few hours to build, can be built on locations. Alternatively, they can be built in factories or workshops and transported to the location. Of course, this can become a reality only when incentive schemes are rolled out to prefab makers to lower operational costs.

Besides dwelling homes, highways and road networks are other dimensions of the Construction-Technology vision.

As indicated in the 2019 Interim Budget, India is the world’s fastest highway developer with 27km of highways built each day. In December 2018, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) worked on 31.87km of national highway construction. This is an average record per day.

Moving on, one wishes that technological innovation will bring about a sea change in highway and road journeys. Highways, it is hoped, will package automated computerised traffic systems. These intelligent highways should leverage advanced communication systems to manage traffic in real time. Besides transport management, highways need to be lined with detection points to determine the speed of vehicles. Sensors will help provide weather alerts.

The setting up of electronic tolls will serve a dual purpose. Vehicles need not queue up at toll centres, so the air pollution from idling engines can be avoided. Simply put, highways need to be smart and green.

In 2018, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) became the country’s first smart and green highway. The 135km six-lane highway that passes through the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is lit by solar power and has provision for rainwater harvesting. Around 2.5 lakh trees line the periphery of the highway. Intelligent highway traffic management system (HTMS) and video incident detection system (VIDS) are other highlights.

All this aligns with the 2015 National Green Highways Policy. The initiative is towards the fulfillment of India’s commitment of voluntary carbon emissions reduction of up to 35 per cent by 2030. This is as per the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change 21 (CoP 21 Summit). Though national highways are the lifeline of road infrastructure, it’s important to keep them green. National Green Highway projects are being encouraged to synergise road development and environment protection.

It would be nice if there will be eco-friendly roads made with recycled materials. While we do require roads for connectivity, it’s also important to keep the ecology intact. As the usage of plastic has been banned at the national level, this is the time when plastic waste needs to be put to good use. Rather than have them contaminating our oceans, it’s practical to recycle plastic waste and use it with asphalt for road construction.

A move has been made in this direction. JUSCO (Jamshedpur Utility and Services Company Limited), a 100 per cent subsidiary company of Tata Steel has combined plastic waste with bitumen technology to make 12-15km of road in the steel city of Jamshedpur, located in the state of Jharkhand. Let’s hope there are more green roads in the country. Large-scale commercialisation of green roads will generate employment and open out newer engineering innovations in road construction.

We continue on the eco-friendly trail, with a departure from road construction. One upcoming trend is that of self-sustaining Industrial Parks whose energy management extends to rainwater harvesting and solar panels. Many of them are poised to be manufacturing hubs and hence attract foreign direct investments.

Logistics parks are beginning to spring up in various states led by government-aid, private-public partnerships and national consortiums. What is important is that these parks are positioned as sustainable and green units that improve the transportation and warehousing industry activities. These parks are expected to handle various manufacturing aspects like the final assembly and labeling, along with packaging, distribution and disposal. Electric and emission-free vehicles, solar and renewable sources of energy are among the norms that will be followed by these upcoming logistics parks.

Source: By  Kavitha Srinivasa

No signs of global recession in next 12 months: BlackRock’s Fink

There are no signs that the global economy is sliding toward a recession in the next 12 months, BlackRock Inc’s Chief Executive Larry Fink said in remarks published on Saturday.

In an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt, Fink warned, however, that the global economy was in the late stage of a long growth cycle, suggesting that downturn was becoming more likely.

“I see no signs of a global recession in the coming 12 months,” said Fink, who leads the world’s largest asset manager.

“The central banks have loosened their policy above all because of the weak fourth quarter of 2018. We will go through a phase in which things are not great but also not bad.”

He added: “But we are naturally in a late phase of the economic growth cycle.”

The International Monetary Fund cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2019 this month and said growth could slow further due to unresolved trade disputes and the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

The global lender said some major economies, including China and Germany, might need to take short-term actions to prop up growth and that a severe downturn could require coordinated stimulus measures.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has ruled out taking on new debt to stimulate growth in Europe’s biggest economy, saying tax cuts, higher investments and a solid labor market will continue to provide growth impetus.

Source: By Joseph Nasr, Reuters

BREXIT: Emefiele says no foreseen adverse impact for Nigeria just yet

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele said at the weekend that Nigeria does not face any adverse consequences from Brexit just yet, as negotiations deal gets tougher.
He said though negative impact could have resulted from immigration and trade but that the relationship between Nigeria and Britain on those two fronts was not strong enough to cause panic.

According to him, Nigerian authorities are reviewing the situation and would take necessary actions if needed.

Emefiele was speaking in Washington at the end of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Just last Friday, the United Kingdom missed its second Brexit deadline, accepting the European Union’s offer to remain until October 31.

The UK’s inability to leave the EU on time is already impacting British and European politics.

Source: By Onyinye Nwachukwu

Pentagon to find places to House up to 5,000 Isolated Migrant Children

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request to identify places to potentially house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

In March, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested Pentagon support to identify locations to house unaccompanied migrant children through Sept. 30.

Migrant arrivals on the US border with Mexico have been building steadily for months, driven by growing numbers of children and families, especially from Central America.


Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis told Reuters Shanahan approved that request on Tuesday. Davis said HHS had made no request to actually house the children so far.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he was not reviving a policy of separating children from parents who had illegally crossed the US-Mexico border, one day after media reports that his administration was considering putting it back in place.

In February, Trump declared a national emergency to help build a border wall, which would allow him to spend money on it that Congress had appropriated for other purposes. Congress declined to fulfill his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall this year.

The Republican president’s latest pronouncements, including a threat to impose auto tariffs on Mexico, are in response to the rising number of migrants. Trump has previously turned to the military to help with his border crackdown.

Last year, the US military was asked to house up to 20,000 immigrant children but the space was never used.

Last month the Pentagon said it had shifted $1 billion to plan and build a 57-mile section of “pedestrian fencing,” roads and lighting along the border with Mexico. There are about 6,000 active duty and National Guard troops near the border.

Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington; editing by James Dalgleish


Singapore Still 2nd On World’s Most Expensive Private Property Market

SINGAPORE remains the world’s second-most expensive housing market after Hong Kong, according to an annual CBRE report which compares private residential property markets across 35 cities. But average price growth was significantly slower, at just 1.1 per cent.

Hong Kong kept its top position with an average residential property costing US$1.235 million or US$2,091 per square foot (psf). Singapore came a distant second at US$874,372 or US$1,063 psf, with Shanghai third at US$872,555 or US$714 psf. CBRE noted that these top three cities have all introduced cooling measures to keep prices under control.

Asian cities took half of the spots in the top 10, with Shenzhen coming in fifth and Beijing, ninth. The other cities in the list were Vancouver (4th), Los Angeles (6th), New York (7th), London (8th) and Paris (10th).



Singapore’s private property market saw average price growth of 1.1 per cent in 2018, far outpaced by Hong Kong’s and Shanghai’s growth rates of 5.5 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively, and ranking 27th out of the 35 cities studied.

The report’s property data for Singapore comes from the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Realis database, which covers only private property transactions.

He noted that following property curbs introduced last year, price growth declined for the second straight quarter in Q1 2019, after five consecutive quarters of strong growth since Q3 2017. “Coupled with increasing supply and weaker sentiment, prices are likely to moderate or remain flat from this year going forward,” he added.


Berlin activists march to demand city seize housing from landlords

Thousands of Berlin residents took to the streets on Saturday to vent anger over surging rents and demand the expropriation of more than 200,000 apartments sold off to big private landlords, which they blame for changing the character of the city.

Activists have started collecting signatures for a ballot proposal that would require the city to take back properties from any landlord that owns more than 3,000 apartments. Polls suggest such a measure could pass, forcing the city to consider spending billions of euros buying privatised housing back.

Demonstrators marched through the city centre under a giant model shark. Banners read “against rent sharks and speculators”.

“We have had very bad experiences with these property companies for years, and we know that they answer to their shareholders and not to tenants. We don’t want them in our city any more,” organiser Rouzbeh Taheri told Reuters television.

For decades after unification in 1990, Berlin became a magnet for artists, musicians and students drawn by housing that was far cheaper than in other major European cities. Around 85 percent of Berliners rent their homes rather than own them.

But with an influx of some 40,000 people a year in the last decade, rents have more than doubled since 2008, according to a study by online housing portal immowelt.de. The city is no longer a bargain for newcomers, and many of its longer-term residents say they are struggling.

Among the properties that have been sold off to the private sector are many of the large landmark Communist-era housing projects built as showpieces under the former East Germany. Many have been acquired in recent years by Deutsche Wohnen, the city’s largest landlord with around 115,000 flats.

Campaigners, who call their movement “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen”, have six months to gather 20,000 signatures and until February to collect a further 170,000 to force a referendum. A February poll showed 44 percent of Berliners support renationalising flats, while 39 percent oppose it.

Deutsche Wohnen and other landlords say the spectre of expropriation could exacerbate the problem by deterring new construction: “Expropriation brings no relief for the drastically tight housing market in the capital,” said Deutsche Wohnen Chief Executive Michael Zahn.

The Berlin Senate estimates the cost of buying back property at up to 36 billion euros ($41 billion). The Social Democrats who lead the coalition that governs the city say such funds would be better spent building housing than re-nationalising it. They instead favour a five-year rent freeze.

“I understand the anger against property firms that want to squeeze every cent out of renters. But expropriation takes years and doesn’t create a single apartment,” the Social Democrats’ national leader Andrea Nahles told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Source:  Caroline Copley, Reuters TV

UAE denies stopping issuance of 3 months visa to Nigerians

The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Nigeria has denied suspending or stopping the issuance of three months visa to Nigerians travelling to the country as a result of a robbery allegedly involving five Nigerians in Dubai.

The embassy in its Twitter handle @UAEEmbassyNGR said: “In the light of the press report published this morning (Thursday 4/4/2019) alleging that the United Arab Emirates has suspended issuing tourist Visa to Nigerian nationals, the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Abuja would like to announce these news are inaccurate and stresses the importance of sourcing news from its official channel”.

Meanwhile, the mission told News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday that “there were no changes in the visa policy at all”.

In a statement, the embassy said: “In light of the press reports published this morning, and alleging that the United Arab Emirates has suspended issuing tourist visas to Nigerian nationals, the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Abuja would like to announce these news are inaccurate, and stresses the importance of getting the news from its official channels. ‘

Five Nigerians allegedly broke into a Bureau De Change in Sharjah Area of Dubai and robbed it.

Shortly after the incident, a travel and tours agent, Africholidays, issued a statement online that Nigerian passport holders were no longer entitled to three months visa in UAE.

Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs, has described the action as disgraceful.

Many Nigerians visit UAE, especially Dubai, on business trips.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria(NAN)

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