High interest rates discriminatory

MANY Zambians are not having access to loans from financial institutions because of the high interest rates being charged and the discrimination by banks against citizens not in formal employment, property developers have observed.

Horizon Properties Limited has stated that the high interest rates being charged by financial institutions were prohibitive for Zambians outside formal employment that could not access loans from banks on account of their employment status.

Horizon Properties Limited chief executive officer Saul Kiwempindi said the problem of housing deficit in the country had been compounded by failure by most Zambians to access financial services due to high lending interests by financial institutions.

He explained that the failure by most Zambians to access banking services meant that they could not manage to access facilities such as loans to build houses because banks often restricted themselves to dealing with people in formal employment and had accounts with the institutions.

“Financing has been a challenge for ordinary Zambians who are not in formal employment and may not even have accounts with banks. So, those who are able to access these facilities are just a few Zambians,” Mr. Kiwempindi said.

And Government has revealed that it would revise the housing policy that would see investors acquire land for the development of housing projects through local authorities.

Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing Nicholas Banda said this yesterday at the first-ever Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services at Hotel Intercontinental.

“I wish to inform you that the majority of the Zambian population are youths under the age of 40 years. You will agree with me that this age group is in dire need of accommodation and forms a greater part of the housing market for investors to tap in,” Mr. Banda said.

Mr. Banda said that Government would do everything possible to create an enabling environment to ensure that the disparities between the Zambian population and deficits in the housing units are harmonised.

“Currently, Zambia has a deficit of three Million housing units and it is estimated that the figure will increase greatly due to the urbanisation phenomenon and population growth. This growth provides an opportunity for Government and private sector to invest in housing infrastructure development,” he said. He observed that the housing deficit in the country called for investors to seize the opportunity of the situation by investing in real estate by providing shelter to Zambians.

“Government will also ensure to work with institutions like Horizon Properties Limited to revise the national housing policy and develop implementation plans that will accelerate housing development. We are also revising the urban and regional planning bill to allow for mixed land use in order to bring services closer to the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zambia Institute on Banking and Financial Services president Cephus Chabu said the growth in urban population has increased pressure on acquisition of land for housing.

“The housing challenge was a very topic issue of our time particular that despite Zambia having a massive land area of 752612 square kilometres, as recorded in the 2010 census there still appears to be a shortage of land for housing. The growth in urban population has not made things any better but has put pressure in this country,” Mr. Chabu said.

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