KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has set up Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company (PMRC) for playing its due role in the development of housing finance in the country to aid financial institutions for extending housing loans in much more quantum by addressing their liquidity issues through refinancing facilities. This was announced by SBP Deputy Governor Saeed Ahmad while speaking on “Awareness Session for General Public on Housing Finance” on Tuesday in Lahore. He said SBP has also issued a separate set of prudential regulations for housing finance in Pakistan to extend housing finance in a better way. In addition to this, various other initiatives are under consideration, in coordination with federal government, which include credit guarantee schemes for low cost housing finance, Ahmed added. “I understand that financial institutions have been reluctant to extend housing finance due to various factors, including the absence of effective foreclosure laws. However, due to the efforts of SBP in creating enabling regulatory environment for housing finance, around 24 financial institutions are now offering housing finance in Pakistan,” he said. This enhanced availability coupled with low mark up rate regime, has increased the housing finance portfolio of Pakistan significantly to Rs 58 billion; an increase of more than 9% in a year, he added. “With a combination of increased government support and enabling regulatory environment for financial institutions offering housing finance, I don’t see any reason that may hinder our success in providing affordable housing solutions to the people of Pakistan,” the SBP governor said. Despite its immense importance, most of the housing finance is arranged through personal sources while only limited number of housing transaction are arranged through formal financial sector. Keeping in view the efforts of SBP in facilitating financial institutions to extend housing finance, along with low mark-up rate regime, this trend highlights another direction; the demand side of housing finance. Another important factor hindering the growth of housing finance is the lack of awareness among general public. People are not fully aware of the benefits of housing finance and how it can help in realising their dream of owning a house. Keeping this in mind, SBP took the initiative of organising awareness sessions for general public in different cities of Pakistan.