The National Housing Bank (NHB), the apex institution for housing finance in the country entered into its 25th year on 9th July, 2012. To commemorate this important milestone in the journey of the institution, NHB organized the Inaugural Event for the year long Silver Jubilee Celebrations on 9th July, 2012 at New Delhi. The Event was graced by the important Guests viz. Kumari Selja, Minister for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Culture, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Dr C Rangarajan and the Minister of State for Finance, Mr Namo Narain Meena.
The Event commenced with the welcome remarks by CMD, NHB R V Verma, who highlighted the background of setting up of the NHB and the journey since. He acknowledged the contribution made by various stakeholders as partners in the NHB's initiatives and Programmes leading to the growth and expansion of the housing finance system.
In her Inaugural Address, the Hon’ble Minister for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Culture, Kumari Selja, highlighted the role and contribution of NHB in the development of the housing sector in the country. Enabling the establishment of a diversified base of mortgage lending institutions, integrating the housing finance market with the overall economic system, augmenting credit flow to various segments of the population, and boosting investor confidence in the sector, were highlighted as some of the important milestone achievements of NHB during the nearly 2½ decades of its existence. In her address the Minister emphasized the importance of improving flow of housing credit to the lower income segments in view of the huge housing shortage in the country. She called upon all the stakeholders to work in a concerted manner in partnership mode to achieve the Government’s goal of ‘Affordable Housing for All’ and expressed the confidence that NHB, as the apex institution in the sector, will continue to make important contribution to these initiatives. While expressing satisfaction over NHB’s role and contribution to the growth and development of the housing finance system, she called upon the NHB to play a lead role in harnessing the full potential of the system in order to address the problem of affordable housing in the country.
Dr. C. Rangarajan, who was the Chairman of the Working Group which recommended the establishment of the National Housing Bank as the apex body for promotion and development of the sector, touched upon the background for creation of this apex institution and its important roles in sectoral development. While commending the role played by NHB in fulfilling the objectives for which it was set up, Dr. Rangarajan also stressed the need to strike a judicious balance between regulation and innovation, as also the need for customer protection and customer education. In his address he made an important reference to the sub-prime lending in the US that eventually triggered the global crisis. He expressed hope and confidence that the Indian market has evolved along sound lending practices which has been reinforced by the NHB's oversight supervisory function. Lauding the role of NHB, he expressed confidence that the Bank will continue to play a key role in promotion of housing sector and the housing finance industry in the country in the best interest of the borrower community with due regard to the stability of the market.
Shri Namo Narain Meena, the Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance, in his special address, highlighted some of the key achievements of NHB including the role played in creating a sound and enabling environment for the housing finance system. He also highlighted the capacity created within the financial sector to serve the diverse housing needs of different segments of the population across the geographical regions in the country. He further observed that the sector has attained good depth, outreach and stability to serve the market in a sustainable manner. He attributed these developments to the important role played by NHB. In his address he also highlighted the importance of market infrastructure development which NHB is promoting for a robust and vibrant market. Shri Meena outlined some of the pronouncements of the Union Budget 2012 for the housing sector and expressed confidence that these measures will bring value to the industry and the various stakeholders particularly in the affordable housing segment.
The Event marked the launch of NHB’s new Logo and its new website – a mark of continuity with change in the changing times but reflecting its enduring values.
In keeping with NHB’s focus on promoting ‘inclusive housing’, a Special Refinance Scheme for Urban Low Income Housing, was launched by the Hon’ble Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja. She lauded this initiative of the NHB to provide for long term funds to retail lending institutions at lower interest rates to enable these institutions to increase their housing credit flow to the lower income segments in urban areas. The Scheme covers loans upto Rs.5 lakh extended to households having monthly income of not more than Rs.15,000 for purchase/acquisition of house. Since the refinance assistance will be extended by NHB at lower than market rates, the lending institutions would be expected to pass on the benefit of lower interest rates to the ultimate borrowers. The Scheme aims to improve affordability by providing refinance at fixed lower interest rate for a long term ranging 10-15 yrs resulting in considerable reduction in EMIs and also hedging against interest rate volatility. The launch of the Scheme at this juncture is very timely as it coincides with the formation of the Mortgage Credit Guarantee Trust Fund and the operation of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). Given the common focus of these Programmes/Schemes, the combined outcome is bound to be encouraging and positive.
NHB also launched a Refinance Scheme for Installation of Solar Water Heating and Solar Lighting Equipments in Homes, to promote the use of solar equipment in the domestic context so as to conserve energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The launch of this Scheme is another step in NHB’s efforts to promote energy efficient homes. The Bank is already operating a refinance scheme wherein the retail lending institutions can avail refinance assistance from the Bank in respect of their housing loans extended for energy efficient housing. The newly launched scheme for solar equipments, which covers retail loans upto Rs.50,000 is expected to go a long way towards improving the penetration and usage of solar lighting and solar water heating equipments in homes.
At this important Event, NHB also announced its initiative to document the evolution of the housing finance system in India including an elaborate commentary and analysis of this growth story covering various aspects of the sector, impediments, challenges and important Policies - fiscal and monetary & credit, regulatory etc. that had a bearing on the nature and direction of development of the housing finance market through the years. The role of the NHB will also form an important part of this publication. Interestingly the Book cover was launched by Dr C Rangarajan who also happened to head the High Level Working Group on Housing Finance under the Seventh Five Year Plan whose recommendations led to the formation of the NHB.
Other speakers at the Event included Secretary, MHUPA, Mr A K Misra, Deputy Governor, RBI Mr H R Khan. The Event was attended by senior executives of the Government, CEOs/CMDs/ED’s of Banks, HFCs, multi-lateral institutions, R & D bodies including former CMD’s and employees of NHB, besides its present officers.
CMD, NHB R V Verma in his remarks, also mentioned that the Silver Jubilee Year celebrations of NHB will entail a number of Events throughout the year including book launches, conferences, seminars and other research-oriented knowledge initiatives with national and global participation.