Abu Dhabi The Federal National Council (FNC) yesterday pressed for increasing the housing loans and grants offered by the Zayed Housing Program to Dh850,000 from the current Dh500,000.
Ali Eisa Al Nuaimi, a representative from Ajman, said housing loans and grants should be increased so that citizens are not forced to borrow from banks at high interest rates.
In a letter to the House, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Public Works, said the Zayed Housing Program offers loans and grants of between Dh500,000 and Dh750,000 each, stressing that the ceiling of loans are constantly reviewed to meet the needs of citizens.
"Recipients of these loans and grants also enjoy up to 45 per cent cut on the prices of building materials and are offered loans from banks at preferential rates," Shaikh Hamdan said.
He added that a memorandum of understanding had been signed with the Central Bank so that 10,000 housing loans and grants will be offered every year and supplementary loans can be obtained at affordable interest rates.
Members of the House demanded the government to fast-track the building of 40,000 houses ordered by His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, in 2008.
They also demanded an increase in the budget of the Shaikh Zayed housing programme, which provides Emiratis with housing grants and loans.
Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Za'abi, a member from Ras Al Khaimah, questioned the pace at which the government was building houses for citizens.
He added the financial crisis had not affected the Ministry of Finance, which offered strong support to banks during the crisis.
Shaikh Hamdan said 6,321 housing loans worth Dh3.2 billion were approved, but due to the global financial crisis, the Ministry of Finance was unable to provide financial support even to approvals already given.
"As a result, the Zayed Housing Program undertook the burden after the government remarkably increased its budget," Shaikh Hamdan said.