Bahrain Gov’t Calls off Expanding Social Housing Funding Beneficiaries with Cancellation of New “Mazaya Program”
2019-03-30 - 12:47 am
Bahrain Mirror: The Bahraini Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has ordered the cancellation of the "Mazaya" system for financing housing requests, and referring back to the former system for funding social housing.
Housing Minister Bassim Al-Hammer officially announced that the ministry would resume receiving applications from citizens who meet the criteria of the current program. This would deprive many who were waiting of benefiting from it, despite the minister's claim that there's an expected significant increase in the number of applicants.
The standards of the first version of the Mazaya program does not allow those whose salaries are less than 600 dinars or more than 1,200 dinars to benefit from the program, and does not allow those over the age of 35 to apply, restricting it to those whose requests included residential units (houses or apartments). It seems that the Ministry will return to these standards after abolishing the entire new system, which would have changed the minimum wage to 500 dinars, and the maximum to 1,500 dinars (with the possibility of merging a couple's salaries), and included requests for land plots, also raising the age limit to 50.
The Crown Prince had ordered the Ministry of Housing to re-study the system five days after it was launched in early March 2019. This sparked widespread controversy in Bahrain and was viewed by citizens as a source of great frustration because of reduced funding.
However, the study led to ending the whole new system, after more than a year of praise and promises.
The new version of the system cut funding of house purchases by almost half for the lowest rank of eligible borrowers, which raised widespread discontent by the public who considered it to be a significant decline.
In the first version, the requirements of the social housing project enabled those with salaries of 600 dinars to obtain a loan amounting to about 90,000 dinars, but obtain not more than 36,000 dinars in the new version that was canceled, which would not allow the applicant to buy a house.
Average prices of simple houses in Bahrain range between 100,000 and 140,000 dinars.
The Minister of Housing deemed the new system a "historical shift in the reality of housing in the Kingdom of Bahrain" in a statement issued prior to its launch in February 2019. In the statement, he claimed that the number of beneficiaries will increase and that it will provide broader options for financing construction and purchase of units, apartments and land plots, without revealing the secrets in its details, in a propaganda that quickly ended.
The Minister described the new version of Mazaya as a turning point and went on to say that citizens "long dreamed of achieving it."
Following the announcement of the Crown Prince, Al-Hammer issued a statement praising it, which contradicts all his previous public statements. The Minister considered Salman bin Hamad's move as "another achievement among a series of achievements in housing issue," also describing it as "a realistic translation so that the leadership and government would address the housing needs of the citizens, providing programs that offer immediate services to them."
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