PETALING JAYA: Former federal minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan has joined in calls for Putrajaya to review its decision to scrap construction of new rental apartment schemes for the poor under the Peoples’ Housing Project (PPR).
In a Facebook post, the former urban wellbeing, housing and local government minister said he was disappointed that the government had made this decision.
Last week, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow made a similar call, saying the PPR scheme, which allowed the poor to rent a home for as low as RM124, was still needed as wage-earners could not obtain loans to buy homes.
According to Chow, he received a letter from Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin saying PPR units will be discontinued and replaced with “Projek Perumahan Malaysia” (PPM), which will see units being sold for between RM90,000 and RM300,000.
A PPR unit is also typically sold at RM35,000 in the peninsula and RM42,000 in Sabah and Sarawak. The government spends about RM150,000 to subsidise each unit, it was reported.
These units are available for sale or rent to those earning RM3,000 and below.
Rahman, who is an Umno Supreme Council member, said the PPR wasn’t merely about providing housing for the poor, but was also a way to share the wealth in the country.
In the case of PPR units, which were sold for between RM35,000 and RM42,000, he said they actually cost RM150,000.
“When the PPR units are owned by those in the lower-income bracket, they are getting a home which is valued at three to four times their initial investment.
“This is how Barisan Nasional shared the wealth of the country with the poor.”
To avoid abuse of this scheme and profiteering, the government set a rule that those who bought the PPR units cannot sell them for 10 years.
“It’s true, the cost of PPR units is high, but this cost can be shared between the states and private developers.
“Social programmes like the provision of low-cost housing like the PPR are the responsibility of the government. A government cannot expect to profit.”
The former Kota Belud MP added the construction of PPR also had a spillover effect on over 120 heavy industries as well as the small and medium sector, from construction materials to electronics, telecommunications, services and so on.
“All these industries pay taxes to the government. This is why the government cannot just look at PPR from the aspect of cost, which it says is high.
“The returns to the government come from many aspects. On top of tax collections, the big return (on investment) is the wellbeing of the lower-income citizens, who get a comfortable home.”
For Sabah, he said the scrapping of the PPR scheme will have a huge impact on the people as it was the main recipient of PPR projects.
“Sabah Umno is urging that the PPR projects be continued for the wellbeing of the people.”
In July, it was reported that 1,308 PPR units in Sabah were open for application in three different districts.
These were in Merotai, Tawau (470 units), Kota Marudu (420 units) and Gayang in Tuaran (418 units).
About 7,000 people had applied for these units.
Thirty PPR projects had been completed since 2001 while seven are in the process of being completed, involving 25,449 units. Most of these units in Sabah are offered for rent.