Vietnam ministry proposal for housing banks dismissed as not feasible

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Experts have questioned the feasibility of a Ministry of Construction proposal to set up housing banks to meet low-income earners' high demand for accommodation.

Nguyen Manh Khoi, deputy chief of the ministry's Real Estate and Housing Market Management Department, said the proposed banks would lend for buying and repairing houses at below market rates of interest for 10-15 years or more.

But borrowers would be required to deposit an amount equivalent to 50-70 percent of the loan for three to five years before borrowing, he said.

Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam said there are plans to include the incorporation of such banks in the revised Housing Law.

The first is expected to be set up in 2017, he added.

Pham Sy Liem, a former construction deputy minister, said the measure would not be effective without a stable economy, proper regulations, and significant increases in wages.

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There would be "many challenges" in implementing the plan, he said.

The head of a real estate company, who asked not to be named, feared the banks would only benefit the rich and not the poor if deposits were a precondition. 

There are housing development funds backed by local budgets, he said, pointing out that Ho Chi Minh City has one offering mortgages at 6 percent interest.

Analysts said the government should allow these funds to accept deposits to enable more lending instead of setting up more banks amid all the problems faced by the banking industry.

The ministry's Vietnam Construction Bank, which lends for low-income housing, could be entrusted with the task, they said.

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