CREBA appeals continuity of construction to fuel economy amid COVID-19

The largest association of real estate, housing and infrastructure developers has appealed to government to allow the resumption of construction activities nationwide under a “productive work-site quarantine” mode to keep the economy in motion. This amid the extension of the partial lockdown of the country until April 30 to mitigate and contain the spread of the dreaded corona virus.

The Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) together with its members from among the country’s top property builders wrote to the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and other agencies involved in the national action plan under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law, citing that the effects of the current global economic slowdown, particularly to OFWs and the foreign market, is so enormous it would take years until housing and real estate, can fully recover.

CREBA appeals to government to allow construction activities to continue to keep the economy in motion.

Meantime, thousands of skilled construction workers are either stranded on project sites away from their families or completely jobless, including repatriated OFWs.

CREBA national chairman Charlie A. V. Gorayeb emphasized that under “productive work-site quarantine,” re-activated project sites will strictly observe all relevant lockdown protocols on mobility and social distancing. Workers will stay at safe and clean on-site barracks with all necessary health measures duly monitored by competent health workers.

This way, according to national president Noel Toti N. Cariño, reinstatement of the workers to gainful employment will help alleviate direct government support in the biggest labor sector. The Philippine Statistics Authority estimates the construction workforce to be about 4 million, with millions more required to man new constructions under the Build, Build, Build Program.

Displaced and returned skilled OFWs can also be deployed locally, Cariño said, citing the quarantine period as an opportunity to fast-track critical government projects.

The two CREBA leaders underscored that with housing and real estate construction being major pump-primers, the continuity of construction activities will greatly stimulate the economy by positively affecting upstream and downstream industries, including employment and tax generation.

Amid the moratorium on rental and purchase payments on residential and commercial spaces, the group appealed for a 3-percent cap on bank rates, freezing of real property tax levels by LGUs for at least six months, and maintaining the VAT-free status of house and lot purchases up to P3.2 million which the TRAIN law extinguishes come January 2021.