Social housing projects wait for incentives

April 15, 2020 - 10:53

Demand for low-priced social houses and houses for long-term rent was high but incentive policies have not yet encouraged investors.


An Lạc low-priced social apartment building for rent was completed in Bình Tân District of HCM City. Photo 

HÀ NỘI – Demand for low-priced social houses and houses for long-term rent was high but incentive policies have not yet encouraged investors.

At present, dozens of low-priced social housing projects in Hà Nội and HCM City had not yet been given preferential loans from the Government.

Lê Hữu Nghĩa, director of Lê Thành Company, told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) Newspaper that for years his company had invested into building more than 3,000 low-priced houses in Bình Tân District of HCM City.

The company sold the houses at prices of VNĐ12-13 million (US$500-550) per sq.m, Nghĩa said.

In addition, the company had completed a social housing project with 930 apartments for rent with tenures of 50 years, said the director.

However, procedures for land use and soft loans had not yet been completed, so the company had to pay interest of 11 per cent per year, he said.

“In fact, policies for social housing development had been slowly implemented with overlapping regulations on taxes,” Nghĩa said.

For example, decree 100 regulates that social houses for rent will be given 70 per cent reduction of VAT and corporate income tax.

However, the tax authority had given companies 50 per cent reduction in taxes as the tax authority still applied the VAT Law in 2016 and Law on Corporate Income.

The tax authority explained that the Law on Housing in 2014 stipulates the tax reductions but does not specify the rate of 70 per cent. The laws on taxes is of higher legal value than decree 100.

So, the companies involved in social housing projects must pay taxes in accordance with the tax laws.

Accessing preferential loan and tax policies was difficult.

According to a representative of BIC Stock Company, investors found it hard to get soft loans.

“The businesses were given an exemption of land use fees but did not have ground clearance costs deducted, while commercial housing businesses offer the deduction,” the representative said.

“VAT was entitled to a 5 per cent reduction but the input VAT was still 10 per cent,” he said.

The tax incentives should be the same as land use fees, i.e., immediately converted to money for businesses by exempting input VAT, he said.

Meanwhile, a representative of Bắc 9 Company, which is undertaking the Ecohome Social House Project in Hà Nội, said that procedures for tax incentives was hindering investors and businesses.

To get tax reductions and exemptions, the tax agency required lists of customers first, he said.

“It was impossible. How can businesses get the lists if they had not sold houses or apartments yet?” he said.

“The procedures to get tax reductions or exemptions were really complicated,” he added.

Complicated procedures

Nguyễn Chí Dũng, vice director of Hà Nội’s Construction Department, told the paper that the soft loans for social housing projects were taken from the budget revenues of projects under 10ha, which were more than VNĐ10 trillion (US$427 million), Dũng said.

The city will lend through Hà Nội’s Development Investment Fund with preferential interest rates, he said.

“However, the lending must be based on principles of safety and efficiency of loans,” Dũng said.

“Last year, the preferential loans for social housing projects were very few. Hà Nội was only allocated tens of billions of đồng for both investors and home buyers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chu Nguyên Thành, director of Hà Nội’s Development Investment Fund, said the fund was allowed to lend more than VNĐ200 billion (US$8.5 million) per project with a yearly interest rate of 6.95 per cent.

The rate was lower than commercial banks and did not change during the bank loan period, Thành said.

The fund had also opened seminars approaching investors but few of them were interested.

Maybe, investors preferred to work with commercial banks over the fund because the bank's procedures were more flexible, Thành said.

Meanwhile, procedures to borrow money from the fund took four to eight years, she said.

“Investors needed a fast and flexible process. They could not wait,” the director said.– VNS