(MENAFN - Arab News) Experts hope housing construction will get top priority in the Kingdom's 2013 budget, which will be announced in a few days.
The real estate market in all regions of the Kingdom has shown remarkable growth in recent times as a result of the fast-growing housing sector.
The soft loans that the Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) and other funding agencies have been giving to citizens have benefited this development. Government subsidies to cement and steel companies also helped the housing construction sector, a local Arabic daily reported yesterday.
The still continuing subsidies suggest a continuation in the new budget. This would ensure further growth of the building sector.
Economists also call on the budget makers to continue the encouragement to this vital sector to ensure the availability of sufficient houses for the fast-growing population.
The REDF is currently pumping SR 30 billion into the housing sector.
"Every village, town and city in the Kingdom is passing through a building boom benefiting from the increasing state support to the real estate fund and other funding agencies," said Abdul Rahman Al-Saeed, REDF director in Makkah.
The REDF offered 60,000 soft loans to citizens in line with the government's keenness to ensure the welfare of the citizens in all parts of the Kingdom, he said. The new projects involve infrastructure development, construction of roads and railway lines and utilities.
He said Makkah city with development works in housing, hotels and road networks could be viewed as symbolizing the developments in other parts of the country.
Makkah is rapidly developing to soon become the city with the largest number of residential hotels in the world, he said.
Member of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saud Al-Saed, who is also chairman of the chamber's reinforced concrete committee, said the country must achieve self-sufficiency in housing in a few years. There should not be a gap between the supply and demand for houses.
"The construction sector is rapidly growing. Nevertheless, the supply is less than the current need for housing units. So, the relevant government departments should draw up strategies to construct houses to match the volume of demand," he said.
He warned against budgetary cuts affecting the construction sector.
He also stressed the need to provide additional incentives to the construction sector, which has been experiencing a decline over the past five months.
"An investment of SR 150 billion in the construction activities in Makkah achieved continuous progress. This resulted in substantial changes in the urban map of Makkah over the past two years," Al-Saedi said.
He also warned against the tactics of cement companies that created a crisis in the cement market. This would force a slowdown in the construction of projects and ultimately boomerang on the cement companies.
He demanded the authorities concerned monitor the cement sales and take steps to stop the development of a black market and punish those who create artificial shortage.
He commended the steel factories for keeping the market steady over the past two years, thus helping the construction and housing sector to grow.