Sunday, May 5, 2013

Government working to make home loans affordable

Vice-president Guy Scott has told a Pan-African conference organized by the Oxford University Union that Zambia is seeking to create opportunities for young Zambians to access affordable mortgages in a bold move designed to reduce the housing deficit in the country.

Delivering a keynote address at the Oxford University-Africa Society “Pan-African Conference 2013” themed “Towards a 21st Century African Renaissance”, Dr. Scott said the lack of access to affordable loans for decent homes has led to many young people entering the labour market to live in sub-standard accommodation for which they pay rents perpetually.

According to the statement made available to The Independent Observer by London Embassy press secretary Amos Chanda the Vice-President said the high interest rates banks charged on home loans hindered people’s access to affordable housing.

“The interest rates charged on homes here (Britain) are almost negligible and therefore people are able to get home loans even before they complete their postgraduate studies,” Dr Scott said.

The government is targeting to bring mortgage interest rates to an average of five percent in order to make as many young Zambians as possible to afford homes when they graduate from school.  “You need to borrow at affordable rates in order to buy a house.”

At national level, Zambia has restructured some loans it inherited from the previous administration to longer-term arrangements and invested them in infrastructure development.

He also assured investors that Zambia’s political stability provides the necessary confidence business looks for when investing in any country.

His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho made the closing speech. Other speakers included senior diplomats, business leaders and academics assembled from a cross section of areas related to the theme of the 2013 conference. Dr Scott, a graduate of the prestigious Cambridge University lectured at Oxford University before he returned to Zambia. His wife Charlotte, a graduate of Oxford, participated as panelist during a session on infrastructure, urbanization and economic growth.

Meanwhile Dr. Scott told BBC Focus on Africa’s Joseph Onyango in a special interview earlier that unemployment was one of Zambia most immediate challenges the PF government was working hard to address.

“We are working hard to diversify the economy and we are doing this very fast. We are creating jobs but there is a huge gap we have to fill because only half a million people were in formal employment at the time we came to power.”

He said the government had put in place changes that sought to create more incentives for investors creating employment rather those simply seeking to extract the country’s resources without due regard to sustainable development.
Dr Scott dismissed as noisy, the Zambian opposition who had it a habit to rush to the international community seeking sanctions against the people of Zambia.

“The opposition are insincere…they are trying to create trouble for the government. They have lost support and now want to create a false impression in the eyes of the international community.”

He said the question of the trial of former president Rupiah Banda was before competent courts of law that would decide the outcome following Parliament’s decision to lift his immunity from prosecution.

There are no violations in Zambia warranting international intervention because the country is functional democracy where the rule of law, respect for property rights and a free political space were guaranteed in the constitution.

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