The World Bank on Friday approved $435 million in financing for three projects in Pakistan, aimed at expanding access to housing finance, improving land tenure rights, and facilitating affordable housing developments in urban Punjab.
“The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $435 million in financing for three projects in Pakistan: the Pakistan Housing Finance project, the Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement project and the Punjab Affordable Housing Program,” read a statement.
World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine also shared the update in a tweet.
“Affordable and accessible housing is in high demand in Pakistan, which is home to over 200 million people and is the most urbanized country in South Asia,” Benhassine was quoted as saying in the statement.
The country director said that such projects would contribute to addressing housing needs, particularly for low-income households, by leveraging the private sector and by facilitating access to mortgage options for those who currently cannot access financing to buy a home. Moreover, he said the schemes would also strengthen property rights and increase the supply of climate-resilient, affordable housing developments.
Pakistan Housing Finance Project
“The $85 million additional financing for the Pakistan Housing Finance Project will help expand access to affordable mortgages to increase homeownership among low-income households, including women and informal workers,” it read, adding that the additional financing would scale up the credit risk-sharing facility launched in 2018, to provide partial credit guarantees to banks, in order to incentivise them to lend to borrowers traditionally excluded from commercial financing.
“This will benefit up to 70,000 first-time homebuyers in the country, who qualify for the government’s interest rate subsidy program - Mera Pakistan, Mera Ghar (My Pakistan, My Home).”
Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement Project
The global lender said the $150 million worth Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement Project would strengthen land administration and facilitate housing authorities’ efforts to identify suitable areas and public lands for affordable housing developments in the Punjab province.
“The project will support the provincial government in upgrading its land registry by creating a digital, province-wide inventory of lands and deeds. This will help secure land tenure and streamline procedures for land-related permits – which are essential for private sector investment, housing finance and tax revenue collection.”
It was of the view that the project would also generate geospatial data and risk information to inform urban planning and disaster risk management strategies for natural hazards such as floods. “More than 38 million people are expected to benefit from land registration, which will not only improve tenure security but also formalize land and property ownership.”
Punjab Affordable Housing Programme
In addition to this, the $200 million worth of the Punjab Affordable Housing Programme would increase the availability of affordable housing, particularly for low-income households in the province. “The program will enhance government systems to create an enabling environment that attracts private financing for mixed-income housing developments.”
The WB said the provincial-based programme would also help the government better target subsidies of the Naya Pakistan Housing Program for low-income households.
“The programme also incentivises the integration of green building principles, climate resilience, accessibility, safety, and mobility of women in housing developments,” it read, “The programme will benefit approximately 77,000 households over the next five years, half of which will be low-income families living in urban areas.”