Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday laid down the foundation stone of the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme near Islamabad.

Last year, the prime minister had launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme under which five million affordable houses have been promised by the government for the under-privileged class during the next five years.

Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said his government is a commitment to providing housing to the public at affordable rates.

PM Imran said the housing units will be built on a public-private partnership basis wherein the government will provide land and the private sector will construct housing units. “18,500 housing units will be built on this site, of which 10,000 will be allocated to people with lower income background.”

The prime minister further said balloting will be held to choose the eligible people keeping in view the large number of applicants. The project is expected to be completed in a year and a half's time.

“The number of people availing credit from banks for constructing their houses is very limited as mortgage practice is not very common in Pakistan's banking system,” the prime minister said, adding, the government is working on a foreclosure law to promote the culture of housing mortgage as is the practice in many countries of the world.

“The Naya Pakistan Housing Programme will enable government servants and other people to get a house at affordable instalments,” he assured.

PM Imran also vowed to provide housing facility to poor people living in shanty areas and slums of the country. “Two slums areas in Islamabad have been identified to start the project. The housing project will be expanded across Pakistan in phases,” he added.

Earlier, in the day PM Imran while chairing a meeting to discuss the progress on Naya Pakistan Housing Programme said the government was taking measures for engaging the overseas in the housing project to ensure their participation in the national development process.

The meeting also deliberated over the legal, administrative and other matters related to the execution of the housing program.

The prime minister was also apprised on the interest by the foreign investors in the project.

He said the housing program was the most important initiative by the government that would bridge the housing shortage besides accelerating the economic activity and creating job opportunities for the skilled youth.