The Director General of the Public Housing Institute (PHI) Rony Lahoud assured in an interview with Sawt Beirut International (SBI) reporter Mahasen Morsel that the interest rates and the value of the loans borrowed through the institute will remain stable and will not be affected in the future, as they are provided in the Lebanese pound.
Lahoud affirmed that a wide range of borrowers are repaying their loan dues to close their accounts. With the Lebanese pound tumbling against dollar on the black market, borrowers since April 2020, hurried to repay their loans. “Whatever the exchange rate is, the loan will remain in Lebanese pounds,” Lahoud confirmed.
Another reason contributed in evolving this trend, is that borrowers wanted to withdraw their deposits from their bank accounts as fears have arose from keeping them in banks or due to immigration reasons. “They preferred repaying the remaining sums from their accounts rather than keeping it in banks,” he said. The number of loans that have been repaid so far have reached 6,500 loans out of a total of 60,000 loans, that represents around 12 percent. PHI employees have faced pressure due to the demand for closing loans, for this reason we started setting appointments for each client, and we also received direct requests from banks.”
Loans provided through the PHI has been suspended since 2018, and around 5,000 families benefited from the scheme during this period, Lahoud said. While the number of loans provided between 2009 and 2010 reached 10,000 loans. “If providing PHI’s loans was restricted to the low income class, then the mandatory reserve have not ran out, and the lending process remained for a longer period,” said Lahoud.
Currently, the PHI is in talks with France for new projects in different sectors in Lebanon to create new housing schemes which differs from the previous one, Lahoud said. Real estate owners will not accept anymore selling their apartments in Lebanese pounds, and at the same time will not accept bank checks in LBP. Banks, amid this situation, are also not ready to provide new housing loans.
This reality has encouraged PHI to work on new long term housing strategy. “We presented a plan which was approved by the Minister of Social Affairs, and is being discussed with the concerned parties in the Housing French Ministry of Housing in order to find new solutions,” Lahoud said.
Corruption which have spread all over the country and in all sectors have deprived thousands of Lebanese families from owning an apartment and benefiting from the subsidized housing schemes. Subsidized loans and interests, worth $1 million, have been granted sometimes to rich people.