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Ministry: Strengthen punishment for affordable housing fraud
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16:29, August 19, 2009

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Ministry: affordable housing cannot be abolished
Ministry: loopholes need to be fixed in housing system for low-income group

Affordable housing violations occur not because of the system itself but because some authorities do not attach sufficient importance to or undertake follow-up management on welfare housing projects, said Hou Ximin, general-director of the Department of Housing Security under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) on August 17.

He stressed that it is necessary to strengthen punishment for fraud in terms of laws and regulations. Meanwhile, internal management and the construction of a transparent and honest government should also be intensified. The mechanism for reviewing and approving the qualification of applicants for affordable housing should be further improved in order to guarantee the authenticity of applicants' income, assets and housing condition.

According to a regulation issued in 2004, affordable housing cannot be rented until the owner has paid the relevant land fees to the government. According to a regulation issued in 2007, affordable housing can only be put on the market after five years have passed since the purchase, and under restricted conditions such as revenue-sharing.

Hou said that there are various reasons why some qualified applicants give up the right to purchase affordable housing. Firstly, some households still cannot afford this type of housing. Some regions use the low-income line released by local statistical departments as the qualification threshold for affordable housing applicants, which means some qualified households cannot afford to buy the houses. In light of associated risks, commercial banks will not offer credit to support these households.

Secondly, there are some defects in the existing cost-based pricing mechanism. For example, there can be significant difference in house prices in two adjacent areas as a result of varying demolition costs. In addition, the location of affordable housing is incompatible with the living and working needs of some welfare recipients. Meanwhile, there is not a big price difference between affordable housing and commercial housing in small and medium-sized cities.

He added that it is necessary to accurately verify the qualification of affordable housing applicants, reasonably select project location and scale as well as to further improve the pricing mechanism for the affordable housing.

By People's Daily Online

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