Bahrain cllrs miffed over two-year new project ban

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Councillors in the Bahraini capital Manama have disputed an announcement that no major new developments will be launched in the city over the next two years, it was reported.

The lack of new developments was raised by Manama Municipal Council chairman Majeed Millad Al Jazeeri, who pointed out that the ministry had only spent 53 percent of its budget, the Gulf Daily News said.

"Municipal coffers are not retaken by the Finance Ministry if not used and this means that the ministry has the same budget given thrice with the same projects being listed repeatedly since 2009," he was quoted as saying

"We still don't know what's the budget allocated for projects, existing contracts and new contracts and anything about owed money and from the last official comment by the minister we heard that 47 per cent of the project's budget is unused."

Ministry officials told councillors they were unable to allocate any of the US$10bn GCC Marshall Plan for new projects as the funding is not allowed be used to purchase land or carry our improvements, the report added.

The property market in the island state has begun to show signs of recovery after the political turmoil that engulfed the country during the Arab Spring anti-government protests.

According to the MENA Construction Projects Tracker, published by Citigroup in October 2012, Bahrain has seen a 22 percent increase year-on-year to US$67bn in contract awards, with the growth as a result of the revival of some previously stalled projects. This compared to an eight percent rise in project planned or underway across the general GCC region.

Real estate transactions across Bahrain also rose nearly 60 percent year-on-year in the first half of last year, Al-Watan newspaper reported, citing statistics from the Survey and Land Registration Bureau.

Transactions worth BHD317.6m (US$842m) were signed between January and June 2012, a rise of 59 percent.

While local investors accounted for 81 percent of the total deals signed, investors from the GCC accounted for 8.87 percent, or BHD28.2m, while overseas buyers accounted for 10.1 percent or BHD32.1m, the report added.

Despite the favourable yearly figures, prime rents in the capital Manama were the worst performing in the world in the first quarter of 2012, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank.

Rents plummeted in Bahrain's capital city by more than 16 percent between December 2011 and March 2012, with Hong Kong the next worst performer with rents falling 4.1 percent.

The index said Manama's rents dropped 20 percent over the past year while Dubai rents were only down 3.9 percent.

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