A housing estate in Bintulu, one of the major towns in Sarawak that badly needed an affordable housing. (photo: Ambrose Paul Ree-Rang)

KOTA KINABALU: The Barisan Nasional (BN) is committed in fulfilling its pledge made in the 13th general election (GE13) to build one million affordable houses nationwide, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan had been tasked with holding discussions with state governments to identify the sites and determine the funds required.

“Our main challenge is to get strategic sites, hence, cooperation between the federal government and state governments is crucial to enable the projects to be well planned and executed.

“We have been doing this before but I think it is more critical now as we want to build more affordable homes,” he told reporters after officiating the ground-breaking ceremony for the People’s Housing Project (PPR) costing RM80 million in Kepayan Ridge here today.

In his speech, Muhyiddin said although the federal government would provide allocations for affordable housing projects, if the sites were not available or a huge sum was required to acquire the land, the target might be derailed.

“Thus, we hope the Sabah government can provide suitable sites, not only in Kota Kinabalu, but also in other areas in the state,” he said, adding that Sabah was given priority for affordable housing projects to cater to the needs of the lower-income group.

“Wherever houses are needed, we will build them for the people who have waited for so long to own or rent affordable homes as it is the BN government’s commitment to provide them as espoused in the BN manifesto,” he said.

Citing escalating house prices putting home ownership beyond the reach of the lower income group, he said due to family obligations, even those earning RM10,000 would have difficulty servicing loans for a RM500,000-house which used to cost only between RM140,000 and RM200,000 several years ago.

“We are giving attention to this matter. As the federal government is providing a huge allocation to the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Ministry to carry out the PPR programme, with the support given by state governments by providing land and infrastructure, I think the critical problem can be solve in the coming years,” he said.

On another note, he said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was bold and decisive in implementing the transformation agenda despite global economic uncertainty.

“While other countries are facing economic downturn, high unemployment rate and stagnant income level, our economy is able to grow by between 4 and 5 per cent,” he said, adding that many jobs were created to the extend that foreigners came to Malaysia to earn a living.

On the 500-unit Kepayan Ridge PPR, he said project, which was built on a 2.57ha site, would start next year and expected to be completed in 2017.

Each unit will have a floor space of 700 sq feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a drying area.

Present were Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, Abdul Rahman, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin, State Assembly speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said Keruak, and State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor. — Bernama