Reuters AlertNet - Angola hopes tax break will make housing affordable

Reuters AlertNet - Angola hopes tax break will make housing affordable

30 Jul 2009 10:06:59 GMT 30 Jul 2009 10:06:59 GMT ## for search indexer, do not remove
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Source: Reuters
* Angola to lift duties on building materials for the poor
* Wants to make housing more affordable
* About five million people live in slums in Luanda
By Henrique Almeida
LUANDA, July 30 (Reuters) - Angola will exempt some imported building materials from taxes in a bid to make housing more affordable for the poor, the government announced on Thursday, following an unprecedented protest over housing in Luanda.
The south-western African nation faces a housing shortage as it recovers from a three decade long civil war that devastated the countryside and prompted millions to flee to the cities.
With Angola importing over 90 percent of building materials from abroad, construction projects are expensive and often come with big delays.
For the capital Luanda, the result is sprawling slums that ring the seaside city and a maze of makeshift huts where three generations often jostle for space and privacy under one roof, often without access to running water or electricity.
S.O.S. Habitat, a local non-governmental organisation, estimates that five million people live in slums around Luanda -- almost one third of Angola's 16.5 million-strong population.
In a statement published in state-owned Jornal de Angola, the government said it would lift customs duties for some building materials used for social housing to "create better living conditions for people with less purchasing power."
Property values, particularly in Luanda, skyrocketed amid an oil fuelled economic boom that followed the end of the war in 2002, making the city one of the world's most expensive to live in.
Rent on a two-bedroom apartment in Luanda can easily cost $7,000 per month. The African nation rivals Nigeria as the continent's biggest oil producer.
The government has promised to build one million new homes for the poor with the help of the private sector. It also hopes to cash-in on huge swathes of land that has been occupied by some of the illegal settlements.
Last week, authorities demolished thousands of brick and tin huts on land next to an unfinished soccer stadium in Luanda where it will host some of the soccer matches of the prestigious African Nations Cup next year.
The move prompted hundreds of people evicted by the authorities from illegal shanty towns in Luanda to march to the city centre on Tuesday to demand compensation in an unprecedented show of social discontent.
The protesters were quickly dispersed by police as they approached the National Assembly building, where parliament was debating Luanda's "urban re-qualification project" that includes providing new homes for residents of illegal shanty towns. (Editing by Richard Balmforth) news

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