Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has assured that the newly launched National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) will be run devoid of any political interference.
Dr. Bawumia launched the scheme in Accra on Tuesday to meet the rent demands in Ghana.
The operations of the scheme have been outsourced to a private sector entity –Rent Masters Ghana Limited.
The intervention is expected to provide low-interest loans for qualified applicants to enable them to pay their rent in advance.
It is currently estimated that there exists a deficit of about 5 million rooms in Ghana as of December 2022; assuming each room is shared by 2 occupants. And this deficit is expected to get worse as the population grows and rural-urban migration continues.
Ghanaians above the age of 18 with a valid national ID card and verifiable employment with an income, qualify for a rent loan in five to ten working days under the scheme.
There are fears the newly launched scheme may collapse if it only benefits party apparatchiks but speaking at the launch of the scheme Dr. Bawumia insisted that only qualified persons will benefit from the initiative.
“Government is working in partnership with the private sector. The scheme will provide low-interest loans to eligible Ghanaians to enable them pay rent in advance. These loans will be repaid monthly to match the tenure of the rent and be supported by a bank guarantee to ensure sustainability. Because the management of the scheme will be outsourced to the private sector, there won’t be any political interference because if they give a loan to someone who is not eligible they will lose money.”
“So if someone comes and says I am from this party or that party so give me a loan, although I don’t qualify, the private firm will essentially be hurting itself if that person is unable to pay back the loan. There is an inbuilt mechanism to stop political interference in the operationalisation of this scheme, so it is available for every Ghanaian,” he said.
Per the scheme, government will pay the full rent directly to landlords on behalf of eligible Ghanaians –in formal and informal sectors–while the tenants reimburse government through monthly payments.
The Vice President further explained that the monthly payments will go back into the pool for the payment of rent loans for other people.
“The amount will be paid directly into the landlord’s account who will also have to sign up on the scheme.
New rent bill
Dr. Bawumia also announced that the government has tabled a new Rent Bill before Parliament to replace the existing one which he said has outlived its usefulness.
“Government acting through the Ministry of Works and Housing has submitted to Parliament for consideration and passage, a Rent Bill to replace the existing Rent Act of 1963, Act 220. The current Act was passed by Parliament 59 years ago, and therefore its relevance has been outlived by the current population growth, urbanisation, availability and housing trends.”
He also added that efforts are in place to digitalise the Rent Control Department to among other things improve the country’s rent system as well as boost revenue collection.