Real estate group pushes for land conversion to address housing backlog

By , on January 19, 2015


MANILA — The Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) has stressed its support to the National Land Use Act (NLUA) provided that the bill allows conversion of some land for agricultural production to housing projects to address housing backlog.

CREBA National Chair Charlie V. Gorayeb said the housing sector does not threatened the agriculture sector through converting land area for agricultural production for real estate developments as the housing sector uses small percentage of the country’s total land area.

Gorayeb showed that according to CREBA’s data affirmed by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), only 2.26 percent or 664,473 hectares of the total land area of the Philippines were utilized by built-up area which includes real estate development and road projects, among others.

He added that agricultural area has the largest share in the pie with 12.6 million hectares or utilizing 42.72 percent of the country’s land area.

He also noted that the developments in non-agricultural area did not diminish the agricultural land area.

Citing the data, built-up land coverage expanded another 1.25 percent in a span of seven years from 1.01 percent in 2003 to 2.26 percent in 2010.

“Lands built up or developed for non-agricultural uses — from time immemorial up to year 2010 — amounted to less than 3.0 percent of the country’s total land area,” CREBA stressed.

Agricultural land coverage expanded faster that non-agricultural land to another 5.39 percent from covering only 37.33 percent of the country’s total land area in 20013 against 2010’s 42.72 percent.

“Despite progress brought about by non-agricultural land development — including government buildings, educational and medical institutions, commercial, industrial and residential facilities, airports and roads for the benefit of the entire nation — agricultural lands still comprise the largest of the country’s total land area,” CREBA added.

The business group defended that the private land sector does not threatened reducing land area for agricultural production, food security, and depriving farmers of their livelihood.

Gorayeb also highlighted socioeconomic contributions of the housing sector including hastening household spending contributing to economic growth, employment creation, business generation, and tax revenue generation.

Provided that the housing sector can get larger slice of the country’s total land area, it can also address the 5.5 million housing backlog in the country.

According to CREBA, a three-hectare land can be provide houses for 600 urban poor families.

“CREBA fully supports enactment of the proposed NLUA, provided that the provisions of the laws mentioned are included and affirmed in the proposed law and the lands set aside for non-agricultural development under said laws are categorically exempted from any provision relating to conversion ban or restrictions and/or redistribution under the CARP,” the organization said.

“With respect to the development of said lands, CREBA fully supports inclusion of any reasonable provision that will protect the environment and preserve ecological balance,” it added.