Several real estate projects have been changed to social housing developments to provide housing for poor people and contribute to loosening difficulties in the market.

The country currently has 124 social housing projects containing more than 78,700 apartments, according to statistics from the Ministry of Construction.

Of these, 85 projects have been under construction for low income earners with 51,900 apartments, while 39 other projects with 27,000 apartments would be made available to workers in industrial zones.

The total projects' investment was over 35.6 trillion VND (1.69 billion USD).

In addition, 57 projects have been proposed to convert from commercial housing to social projects, which could provide an additional 34,837 apartments with a total investment of 20.5 trillion VND.

Of these projects, Hanoi has reviewed proposals from 15 projects to increase the number of apartments from 5,478 to 10,587. Another 10 projects in HCM City also submitted proposals to increase the number of apartments from 4,655 to 9,052.

Besides, the Government has issued Decree 188/2013/ND-CP on the development and management of social housing with stronger support and clearer procedures, which aims to increase the social housing supply, as well as regulate the property market.

The decree, which took effect on January 10, stipulates that social housing projects would be exempt from land use taxes.

Investors in such projects would also enjoy benefits, such as tax reductions and exemptions for value-added and corporate taxes.

Enterprises in the projects could ask for loans from credit institutions. Under the decree, commercial banks and credit institutions would be responsible for providing at least 3 percent of their total debt balance for social housing projects, offering assistance to low income earners with lower interest rates than those available in the market.

Also, investors would be given support from the State budget for land clearance and infrastructure improvements.

Investors would also be allowed to issue bonds guaranteed by the Government to arrange capitals for their projects.

Further, the purchase of social housing will be transferred after 5 years of use, from the time of signing the contract with the investor.

Of note, in the last two weeks of 2013, disbursements from a 30 trillion VND package to offer soft loans to home buyers and property developers, in an attempt to stimulate the property market and resolve bad debt, saw a surge of 170 billion VND.

By the end of last year, the State Bank of Vietnam committed loans of 1.75 trillion VND for 13 businesses and 1,764 home buyers.

Of these, commercial banks distributed 304 billion VND to 7 enterprises and 1,750 customers, with total loans of 428.5 billion VND.

Also, the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam took the lead in providing loans under the package, with total disbursements of 150 billion VND. This was followed by Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Agribank and MHB.

Meanwhile, the ministry's Housing and Real Estate Management Department said banks have received applications and reviewed them.-VNA