In line with the immense potential Pakistan’s real estate sector has to offer, the former government launched the Roshan Apna Ghar scheme to attract investments from overseas Pakistanis. The country has a staggering 9 million overseas ex-pats that send remittances, averaging around USD 29.4 billion in 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, and incomplete development projects. The Roshan Apna Ghar scheme aimed to provide mechanisms for overseas investors to ensure that the bank guaranteed each property’s legitimacy, along with offering zero processing charges on up to 80 percent of the financing. 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
With the introduction of the Roshan Apna Ghar Scheme, it was expected that a significant amount of investments would 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. Therefore, overseas Pakistanis are an indispensable source of real estate investment for Pakistan.
According to the latest data, Pakistan had received USD 29.4 billion in remittances during the financial year 2020-21 and has received a record high remittance of 31.2 billion USD in the financial year 2022. It is a substantial 6.1 per cent year-on-year growth. Pakistan has a large and vibrant community of more than 9 million expats working in countries all across the globe. An increase in foreign remittances also indicates the growing level of trust overseas Pakistanis place in the project.
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. In terms of investments, a total of USD 4.7 billion has been deposited by overseas Pakistanis in Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs). From the total amount, almost USD 3,089 million has gone towards Naya Pakistan Certificates.
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. This statement is further fortified by the fact that more than 70 per cent of court cases in Pakistan are related to real estate.
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. However, 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, and there are no formal regulatory authorities that can keep a check on developer activities and deadlines.
Land grabbing is another major issue in the country as property owned by overseas Pakistanis regularly falls prey to illegal occupation by land mafias and residents. These cases often result in years of lengthy trials for the owner. Besides this, 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.
Roshan Apna Ghar Scheme
The Roshan Apna Ghar scheme is an initiative launched by the State Bank of Pakistan under the 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 85 to 99 per cent (depending on the type of financing) 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 are offering a wide variety of pre-approved projects that are 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 can purchase any property in Pakistan through RDA participating banks by selecting a property and nominating a person to complete the sale and purchase. The banks accurately value the property and transfer the funds to the seller in case of a completed transaction. Shariah-compliant methods are also offered under the scheme.
Lastly, resident Pakistanis can now become co-borrowers with non-resident Pakistanis towards the financing of homes and properties. This allows a massive number of people whose relatives are overseas to gain access to house financing on easier and more convenient terms.
Current Status of Roshan Digital Account
Global Village Space (GVS) reported last week that the data released by the central bank on Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities show a sharp decline in the number of Naya Pakistan Certificates (NPCs). Furthermore, the outlet reported that overseas Pakistanis have withdrawn 472 million USD in the last three months. Pakistan Banao Certificate (PBC) is another initiative which has also registered a decline of 13 million USD (58 million USD in March 2022 to 45 million USD in June 2022) in the last three months. In addition, the inflows to the Roshan Digital Account (RDA) have declined by 25% and currently stand at 188 million USD. As per the data released, the total deposits in RDA reached 4.794 billion USD in July 2022. However, the month-on-month (June 2022 – July 2022) inflow has dropped by 24.8% as RDA received 188 million USD in July as compared to 250 million USD in June.
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 launching of the Roshan Apna Ghar scheme by the former government focused on bringing foreign direct investment into the real estate sector of Pakistan. However, due to the politico-economic turmoil, Pakistan faces a serious current account deficit due to rising imports and falling exports. By providing a stable environment and ensuring that overseas Pakistanis can remotely and digitally invest in the real estate of Pakistan, the project expects to attract a large number of investments towards the real estate sector of Pakistan.