Jagdeep moots federal ‘housing tax’ to build affordable homes

Penang state Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo.

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang executive councillor today said the federal government should introduce a form of “housing tax” so that more low and low-medium cost homes can be built.

State Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the “tax” need not be an additional tax, but merely a mechanism for the government to set aside a certain amount to a particular state for public housing.

He said this concept was workable as had been shown by countries such as the United Kingdom and other European countries.

“Whatever taxes collected now, a certain sum should be allocated for public housing. The tax being collected now is for a wide variety of reasons. We do not know what the taxes are being used for, exactly.

“So by defining it as housing tax, at least we know how much is being funnelled to states in terms of housing funds alone,” he said at a press conference here today.

Jagdeep said while Penang had required private developers to build affordable homes in the state, the homes directly built by the federal government had been lacking.

He said Penang, despite being the top three in terms of taxpayers in the country, had few federal government public housing projects.

“I will be making my full proposal to the minister in charge of housing to study. At least we can be certain then of how much housing funds are being made available to us,” he said.

Jagdeep said Penang had tried its best in ensuring more affordable homes are built, with 28,195 units built since 2008.

He said another 22,065 units are in different stages of development and another 32, 212 units have been given approval to be built.

Jagdeep said to ensure only the deserving get to buy such units, a selection committee has sat 49 times and shortlisted 43,121 eligible candidates since 2013.