Roshan Apna Ghar: Overseas Investment in Real Estate
In line with the immense potential Pakistan’s real estate sector has to offer, the Prime Minister of Pakistan has recently launched the Roshan Apna Ghar scheme to attract investments from overseas Pakistanis. The country has a staggering 9 million overseas expats that send remittances, averaging around USD 29.4 billion in 2021 (Rizvi, 2021). However, the underlying problem with attracting foreign investment in the real estate sector is a large number of scams and fraud cases, multiple instances of land grabbing of properties owned by overseas investors, and incomplete development projects. The Roshan Apna Ghar scheme will provide mechanisms for overseas investors to ensure that the bank guarantees each property and up to 80 per cent of the total cost can be financed with zero processing charges. The scheme has been termed as a “game-changer” for the real estate sector of Pakistan. Continue reading to understand the prospects of the Roshan Apna Ghar scheme for the uplifting of the real estate sector.
Investment Potential of Overseas Pakistanis
According to the latest data, Pakistan has received a record USD 29.4 billion in remittances during the financial year 2020-21 as overseas Pakistanis continue to send over USD 2 billion foreign exchange consecutively for the past 13 months (Rizvi, 2021). It is a substantial 27 per cent year on year growth. Pakistan has a large and vibrant community of more than 9 million expats working in many different countries. An increase in foreign remittances also indicates the growing level of trust overseas Pakistanis place on the government and their development policies. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, remittances have helped boost the country’s currency reserves and allow debt repayment. The huge increase in remittances can also be attributed to the introduction of key regulatory measures by the State Bank of Pakistan, such as incentives for sending money through formal channels (PakistanObserver, 2021). In terms of investments, a total of USD 1.5 billion has been deposited by overseas Pakistanis in Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs). USD 600 million has gone towards Naya Pakistan certificates. With the introduction of the Roshan Apna Ghar Scheme, it is expected that a significant amount of investments will also be directed towards the real estate sector of Pakistan. The industry is connected with more than 40 allied industries and will help boost the economy of Pakistan. Therefore, overseas Pakistanis are an indispensable source of investment for Pakistan.
Challenges Faced by Overseas Pakistanis in Investing in the Real Estate Sector
Investing in real estate is a highly lucrative option for many overseas Pakistanis. However, a majority of those who invest in real estate often end up getting stuck in land fraud cases and lengthy litigation trials. More than 70 per cent of court cases in Pakistan are related to real estate. Although Pakistan has the highest per capita demand for housing in the South Asian region, which shows the massive potential for growth in the real estate sector, a major hurdle towards the flow of foreign investments in the real estate sector is widespread corruption in the country. There are no formal channels for overseas residents to verify the ownership of a parcel of land which they intend to buy or invest in, there are no formal regulatory authorities that can keep a check on developer activities and deadlines, and there is also a genuine fear of being affected by malpractices rampant in the market. Land grabbing is another major issue in Pakistan as often the lands owned by overseas Pakistanis are illegally occupied by land mafias and residents. These cases often result in years of lengthy trials for the owner. Besides this, a majority of development projects are not approved by the relevant authorities and result in many problems for investors later on. In light of these challenges, many overseas investors refrain from investing in real estate projects on a larger scale (Dawn, 2021).
Roshan Apna Ghar Scheme
The Roshan Apna Ghar scheme is a new initiative launched by the State Bank of Pakistan under the Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA) infrastructure that allows millions of non-resident Pakistanis access to innovative banking solutions in collaboration with the commercial banks of Pakistan. Overseas Pakistanis can now buy and sell property, construct or renovate houses through their investment, or access bank financing with up to 80 per cent of the project’s value for a period of 3 to 25 years on fixed and variable rates. All this process can now be accomplished remotely and digitally. Banks will also offer a wide variety of pre-approved projects that will be legally guaranteed to mitigate the risks of land grabbing and fraudulent development schemes. The scheme is geared towards making overseas investments in the real estate sector convenient and fast. Non-resident Pakistanis will also purchase any property in Pakistan through RDA participating banks by selecting a property and nominating a person to complete the sale and purchase. The bank will accurately value the property and transfer the funds to the seller in case of a completed transaction. Shariah-compliant methods will also be offered under the scheme. Lastly, resident Pakistanis can now become co-borrowers with non-resident Pakistanis towards the financing of homes and properties. This will allow a massive number of people whose relatives are overseas to gain access to house financing on easier and more convenient terms (State Bank of Pakistan, 2021).
Pakistan’s real estate sector offers a massive potential to uplift the country’s economy. The sector has forward and backward linkages with more than 40 allied sectors of the industry. The recent launching of the Roshan Apna Ghar scheme by the Prime Minister of Pakistan focuses on bringing foreign direct investment into the real estate sector of Pakistan. Pakistan faces a serious current account deficit due to rising imports and falling exports. By ensuring that overseas Pakistanis can remotely and digitally invest in the real estate of Pakistan, it is expected that a large number of investments will come to the real estate sector of Pakistan.