Flagship mass housing program must be made attractive to private investors, DHSUD says

HUMAN SETTLEMENTS SECRETARY Jose Rizalino L. Acuzar (second from left) at the BusinessWorld x The Freeman Forum in Cebu City on Friday. He is flanked by Philstar group officials Lucien C. Dy Tioco, executive vice-president, and Miguel G. Belmonte, president and chief executive officer. On the right is Johnson Del Valle, general manager of Belmont Mactan Hotel.

THE Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) said the government’s flagship program for mass housing must offer “feasible” terms to encourage private-sector participation, including projects where housing is just one element of a broader development agenda.

The Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino (4PH) Program needs to propose “feasible investments” under an “enabling policy environment,” Housing Secretary Jose Rizalino L. Acuzar said during his keynote speech at the BusinessWorld x The Freeman Forum in Cebu City on Friday.

Mr. Acuzar said one project where all the elements are coming together in terms of combining housing needs and developing smart cities is the North-South Development Project, a transit-oriented initiative seeking to link Luzon’s major population centers.

He added that Davao and Cebu Cities are at the forefront of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network initiative, noting that the need for smart cities has been broadly recognized.

“We are literally drawing smart cities on a laid canvas with a holistic point of view. I am very confident that we can further expand our horizons on innovation, technology, and best practices to transform our cities (and make them) not only resilient and sustainable, but smart as well,” Mr. Acuzar said.

Earlier this year, the DHSUD partnered with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for housing projects in New Clark City, which are expected to attract people from adjacent provinces and stimulate economic activity in the area.

He added that from the government point of view, the 4PH master plan supports the development of smart cities that elevate living conditions via decent shelter within sustainable communities.

The government is focused on “enhancing quality of life through innovation and technological solutions,” Mr. Acuzar said.

To develop smart cities, Mr. Acuzar called for maximizing land use, the efficient utilization of resources efficiently, and support for town in developing open space.

Citing Economist Impact’s Digital Cities Index 2022, he noted that Manila is at the bottom of the list of top-performing cities in terms of internet speed and qualitative factors like the policy environment for promoting 5G and artificial intelligence.

“Thankfully, we are now pursuing a promising track, especially with Pambansang Pabahay,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

Neil Banzuelo

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