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Wed 27 Feb 2008 02:49 AM

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Jordan unveils $7bn housing project

More than 100,000 homes to be built for low income families over next five years, King Abdullah II says.

Jordan's King Abdullah II launched a five-billion-dinar ($7bn) housing project on Tuesday for low income citizens across the kingdom.

"I know that Jordanians suffer from housing problems. Social and economic security is a top priority that requires providing good living conditions for many families," the king told a ceremony on the shores the Dead Sea.

Under the "Decent Home for Decent Living" plan, 100,000 houses will be built in northern, central and southern parts of Jordan over the next five years, Minister of Public Works and Housing Sahel Majali told reporters.

"Each apartment will be sold for 24,000 dinars (around 33,000 dollars), in 240 installments, and the government has already received 18,000 applications to benefit from the plan," Majali said.

"The treasury will handle 15 million dinars (21.1 million dollars) of the overall cost of the royal housing initiative," he added, without saying how the government will raise the remaining funds.

The size of the apartments will vary from 80 to 140 square metres (860 to 1,500 square feet), according to Majali.

"We will study the possibility of building another 100,000 houses if the need arises, as well as mechanisms to provide houses to private sector employees on limited and low incomes," he said.

According to official figures, more than 14% of Jordan's nearly six million inhabitants live below the poverty line, but unofficial estimates put the number as high as 31%

In November, King Abdullah II appointed Nader Dahabi to head a new government and entrusted him with pushing ahead with social and economic reforms.

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