People's Daily warns of hidden issues amid accelerating affordable housing construction

10:14, July 28, 2011      

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The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, on Wednesday warned of quality issues amid the nation's accelerating construction of affordable housing.

"We shall not be over-satisfied with the rapid progress in affordable housing construction...Blind pursuit of speed would cause chaos or even tragedies afterward," said an article in the newspaper.

By the end of June, affordable home construction had started on more than 5 million units, or half of the nation's plan for this year, up from 3.4 million units from a month earlier, said the article, citing Qi Ji, vice minister of housing and urban-rural development.

Qi expected that the nation's planned 10 million affordable-housing units for this year would commence construction before the end of November.

Qi attributed the rapid growth of the housing-units construction within a single month to the long preparation period and unfavorable weather conditions in previous months.

But the newspaper pointed out that the reported figure might be inaccurate, as some local governments allowed affordable housing projects to start construction before obtaining regulatory approval, and some projects were reported as commenced with only foundation-laying ceremonies held.

Wu Huijuan, director of the Project Quality and Safety Supervision Department under the ministry, said the massive scale, tight schedule and lack of quality awareness are the major challenges to ensuring quality affordable housing.

Besides speeding up construction, there is still a lot to do for local governments to meet public demand, said the newspaper.

"The sole pursuit of fast construction is likely to leave holes in quality that could threaten people's lives and property," it said.

Indicators that reflect construction progress might be the most direct way to demonstrate achievements, but they are not the most important ones, it added, calling for more attention on project quality, as well as distribution and management.

Wang Juelin, a researcher with the ministry, said as the price gap between commercial and affordable housing widens, distribution and management of affordable housing will be prompt issues that the government needs to deal with.

The government should work out an effective mechanism that ensures the long-term operation of the affordable-housing system, Wang said.

The ministry would conduct a nationwide check on the quality of affordable housing projects in August, according to the article.

Source: Xinhua
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