Oman to build 4,000 houses for needy citizens


Saif Al Shaqsi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Housing

Muscat: As part of the Sultanate's ongoing efforts not to let any Omani remain homeless in the near future, the Ministry of Housing plans to build over 4,000 houses for low-income group citizens in various parts of the country in the coming year.

Saif bin Amur bin Sulaiman Al Shaqsi, undersecretary at the Ministry of Housing, told the Times of Oman that the government planned to build more than 4,000 houses for the needy in 2014.

The ministry was carrying out an intensive exercise to ensure that every Omani should have a house. In 2013, the Ministry of Housing built around 3,500 houses for Omanis. It started working on developing three residential units in the Seeb area of Muscat. The project will cost over OMR63,000.

It is also working on developing around 30 residential units in Salalah, Taqa, Shilim and Halaniyat. The ministry has also begun residential projects in other parts of the country, including in Al Sharqiyah and Wusta regions.

The housing assistance programme was designed to help the limited-income families (earning OMR129 per month) and families dependent upon social security. In 2007, the ceiling for social housing assistance was raised from OMR10,000 to OMR15,000, keeping in view the rise in the prices of building materials and the complex nature of geographic areas.

Beneficiaries
According to a report of the ministry, between 2008 and 2012, the total number of beneficiary households under the Housing Assistance Programme was 7,943, accounting for a total cost of approximately OMR164 million, an average of OMR1,589 per household per year. The report said that under this programme, 4,812 households benefited in 2012 at a cost of more than OMR105 million, while the number of households which received the assistance during 2012 increased by about 120 per cent compared to the number of beneficiary households in 2011.

Saif Al Shaqsi said: "We are also providing easy interest-free housing loans to Omanis. We have a budget and we move accordingly under our plans.
However, there are no constraints when it comes to serving the needy people."

The total funds approved for the programme during the last five-year plan (2006-2010) reached around OMR17.2 million, while the total funds for the programme during the current five-year plan reached OMR49 million, an increase of 185 per cent.

A total of 2,358 households benefited from Housing Loans Programme at a total cost of approximately OMR43 million with an average of 472 per household per year. A total of 1,388 households benefited from the programme during 2012, at a total cost of about OMR27 million, an increase of 363 per cent compared to the number of beneficiary households in 2011.

Al Batinah South governorate was on top in terms of the number of beneficiary households during 2008-2012 — accounting for 16 per cent of the total beneficiary families, followed by Muscat governorate with 14 per cent.

The governorates of Al Buraimi, Al Sharqiyah North and Al Wusta were the lowest in terms of the number of families that benefited from the Housing Loans Programme, it said.

The programme aims to grant loans to limited-income citizens earning less than OMR120 and not more than OMR250 per month at the time of submitting the application and not more than OMR400 upon approval thereof, for the purpose of building or buying a new house or expanding an existing one.

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