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Bahrain eyes $1.3 bln for housing over 2 yrs -minister

Plans to spend $1.27 billion on housing over two yrs; More than 50,000 applicants waiting for low-cost housing.

September 27, 2010 4:38 by

Bahrain plans to spend 480 million dinars ($1.27 billion) over the next two years to tackle the country’s long-standing shortage of affordable housing, a minister said on Monday.

There are more than 50,000 applicants waiting for government-subsidised housing in the small Gulf Arab state, with officials currently handing over units to those who applied in 1993.

The government plans to spend the 480 million dinars to deliver over 7,000 housing units that will be subsidised by at least 70 percent, Housing Minister Sheikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa al-Khalifa told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Manama.

“According to our plan, we should reach (those who applied in) 2003 by the end of 2012 and reduce the waiting time to five years by the end of 2014,” he said.

The shortage of affordable housing is one of the most pressing social issues in Bahrain as government programmes marred by bureaucracy did not deliver sufficient units.

Private sector investments went into the luxury housing during a five-year property boom in the Gulf Arab region that burst in 2008. Private developers in the region are increasingly turning to affordable housing as the top end of the market is still lying idle.

Population growth was the reason for the government’s inability to keep up with demand, Sheikh Ebrahim said.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter; Editing by Firouz Sedarat)

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