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Press Release on ‘International Conference on Housing Finance on Housing – An engine for Inclusive Growth’ held during April 11-13, 2013 in New Delhi, India

An International Conference on Housing Finance on the theme “Housing – An engine for Inclusive Growth” was organized during April 11-12, 2013 at New Delhi, India. The Conference was held under the combined aegis of National Housing Bank (NHB), the Asia Pacific Union for Housing Finance (APUHF) Forum, whose Secretariat is hosted by NHB, and the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (APMCHUD).  The Conference was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Finance, Shri Namo Narain Meena. The focus area of the Conference was housing as a contributor to inclusive growth. The programme was structured with a view to deliberate on a wide range of issues being faced by the housing and housing finance industry across the Asia Pacific region, as also the best practices across the globe.

The two-day conference saw participation from more than 200 eminent speakers and delegates from over 12 developed and emerging countries. Several speakers presented the status of housing and housing finance in their respective countries. The Conference saw representation from Central Banks of various countries, policy makers, planners, Banks, Financial Institutions, multilateral agencies and academia. The Conference spanned over a period of two days and comprised of nine sessions covering issues relating to increasing urbanization and housing challenges, regulatory and policy framework, housing finance and low income housing, securitization, mortgage insurance / guarantee and lessons from sub-prime.

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The speakers also deliberated on issues arising from urbanization, slum proliferation, and lack of adequate and reliable data with respect to housing shortage. Further, funding models of various countries and also new evolving products like covered bonds were discussed during the course of the Conference. Members of the developer community also shared their insights and outlook for the housing and housing finance sector.

The Conference served as a platform for sharing knowledge, experiences and learnings amongst the Asia Pacific countries for an in-depth understanding of issues related to the sector. The two-day event also served as an advocacy forum promoting the need for affordable and accessible housing and housing finance in the region, engaging attention of various stakeholders and Policy makers.

Some recommendations and ideas which emerged after the two-day conference included accessible and affordable construction finance, simplification of state laws, single window clearances to enable faster approvals, establishment of the Real Estate Regulator, inclusion of MFIs in the schemes formulated by the Government, effective rental housing schemes, special dispensation of FAR, developing sustainable and customized housing microfinance products for the EWS/LIG segments, interlinking the various plans like City Development Plan, Master Plan, City Sanitation Plan and City Mobility Plan. The importance of responsible borrowing as well as responsible lending was also highlighted in the backdrop of the sub-prime crisis.

It was strongly felt that the sector required an effective and constructive regulatory mechanism to ensure transparency, accountability and further safeguarding the interest of the end user. The need to protect customers’ interests and promote transparency for their information and decision making was also highlighted. The representatives from Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nigeria and Yemen gave detailed accounts of the status of housing sector and housing policies in their countries. The need for national level housing policies with emphasis on state and local governments’ sensitization to the need for reforms and efficient processes and approvals was a common theme observed across all countries’ presentations.

As a follow up, NHB seeks to step up its advocacy for these reforms and changes with the state government agencies and local authorities through suitable awareness-building and capacity-building measures. NHB is also engaging with International Financial Institutions in this regard.