THE Federal Government is urged to address several issues plaguing the country’s housing and construction industries through Budget 2024.
Johor Real Estate Housing Developers Association (Rehda) chairman Wong Boon Lang suggested the government reintroduce the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC), which was first introduced at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and waive stamp duty for housebuyers.
Wong said the housing industry was the one of the key sectors that could spearhead the country’s economy and benefit over 240 downstream activities.
“If it (housing industry) is at a standstill, the consequences will include a slowing down of the economy.”
Gunung Impian Development Sdn Bhd general manager Koh Moo Hing said he hoped Budget 2024 would include measures to boost homeownership.
“Homeownership in the country is still low,” said Koh, adding that several factors contributed to the situation including a mismatch between housing products, potential owners and affordability.
“We are facing a Catch-22 situation, having to build low-cost and Bumiputra units as a project requirement and cross-subsidise them.”
He said there were cases of prospective buyers who were not eligible to purchase low and medium-cost houses because their incomes exceeded the eligibility bracket but could not afford to buy houses priced above RM500,000.
Johor Master Builders Association president Kong Weng Keong said the construction industry was still recovering after a three-year slowdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He hoped that through Budget 2024, the Federal Government would consider offering soft loans to construction-related companies.
Kong also urged the government to address the hike in prices of building materials, recorded at between 15% and 25%, compared to pre-Covid-19 days.
“The construction industry is also facing a shortage of skilled workers as 50% of experienced Indonesians left Malaysia during the pandemic and have stayed back to work on infrastructure projects in their country.
“We are now depending on Bangladeshi workers and delays in completing projects is inevitable due to the labour shortage,” he said.