REAL ESTATE |
Ever since Uganda locked down its economy following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, economists have predicted a recession, enterprises have lost business and many people are in panic thinking of what the future holds.
The real estate sector, according to practitioners, is perhaps one of the most hit during this outbreak, and has seen tenants and landlords crying out to the central government to intervene.
As the President Thursday makes his State of The Nation Address, sector players said the president should pay more attention and give guidance on how to solve the conundrums in the nascent sector.
According to Shirley Kongai, president of the Association of Real Estate Agents (AREA) Uganda, the president should primarily focus on the issue of rents both in residential and commercial premises, which have gone unpaid for months.
"Many tenants cannot pay the areas because they have been under lockdown and have constrained cash flows. Asking them to meet the rent obligations is tantamount to throwing them out of business," she said.
She said solving the issue of rents is one of the keys to saving small and medium sized enterprises from collapsing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
She said the president's address should also give a clear guideline on how to solve the issue of bank loans especially for property owners and business operators across the country.
"Solving the problem of rents is tied to solving that of bank loans. Landlords cannot let the rents for the past two to three months go if banks are on their backs. We, therefore, expect him to give us relief for about six months; three to cover the lockdown period and three to cover the period after," she said.
Vincent Agaba, the proprietor of Averts housing, a real estate agency said the President should also address the issue of affordable housing in this speech, in addressing the big gap in the number housing units needed in the country.
"One thing coronavirus has taught us is that housing is not a luxury but one of the most essential needs. If people have descent affordable shelter, nothing in the world can shake a nation and drive it out of perspective because we would be sure that our people are safe in their homes," he said.
He said the President should also tackle how the government intends to save people's jobs, keep the economy functional and promote private sector growth over the coming year.
"We also expect him to talk about the issues surrounding property tax and rental tax because this is one area in which the sector will be greatly affected," he said.