New Iraqi Budget Deepens Housing Crisis

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The strenuous efforts exerted to handle the housing crisis were quickly rendered useless when the ratified 2013 general budget did away with the allocations for the housing fund, which was to grant loans for those wishing to build new homes.

The Iraqi parliament ratified the 2013 general budget on March 7 after a heated debate among involved parties regarding the share allotted to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The budget did not include any housing allocations, which were held back until an increase in oil revenues is seen.

The housing fund is set out by the Ministry of Construction and Housing. The biggest real-estate funding body in Iraq, with a capital of one billion Iraqi dinars ($900 million), the housing fund was established specifically to solve the housing crisis.

The fund grants zero-interest loans in monthly payments with a ceiling of $30,000 for those wishing to build a private home in the Iraqi capital. Should the construction take place in other provinces, the loan limit drops to $25,000. The 2013 budget stipulated that allocations for this fund would come from the surplus in oil revenues, instead of from fixed budget lines.

This surplus, however, is not expected to be reached until the middle of the next fiscal year, which means that the fund will not receive any money in the coming months.

Director-general of the fund Burhanuddin Bassam affirmed that the fund would not accept new loan applications from any of Iraq’s provinces. He stressed that the available money could only cover the payments due to applicants who had already registered.

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