Muscat: Shura members called for the decentralisation of Housing Ministry procedures, among expressing other concerns regarding land development, housing assistance, and private sector inclusion during their session on Thursday with the Minister for Housing.
During the Shura Council’s 18th session of the term, which hosted Minister of Housing Saif Al Shabibi, the members discussed strengthening ties with the private sector in housing, the need to review the latest increase in real estate fees, and protecting land from illegal use in the Sultanate.
The Shura Council went on to discuss Al Shabibi’s statement from Wednesday in the Council, which included five main points that covered various aspects of housing, including: planning and developing land for various uses, distributing it to the beneficiaries, as well as providing housing assistance and loans to those who need it most.
Shura members particularly highlighted the issues of delayed distribution of land, as well as the promotion of partnership with the private sector, in light of the current economic challenges.
In addition, Hilal Al Kharusi, a council member, called for granting the Housing Directorates in the provinces, the power to clear procedures without resorting to go the main headquarters of the Ministry. The Council members also demanded that land fees be reduced in some governorates, pointing out that the fees in those areas is sometimes higher than the value of the property.
Al Shabibi, however, explained that fees are unlikely to be reduced due to the current economic conditions. He also said the Ministry hopes to distribute land near to the provinces where citizens originally live, if the planning allows for it.
Members of the Council also called for the allocation of land to cultural centres in the provinces and governorates. The Minister said according to the criteria, population density and other requirements, a submission may be made to the Ministry of Housing to determine the location of a cultural centre.
Mohammed Al Rashidi, a Council member, spoke about the compensation for those affected by the Batinah Expressway, with regards to those receiving farmlands, homes and lands in locations that do not possess the same market value, and lack services.
Al Shabibi explained that the main goal of the compensation towards those affected by the Batinah Expressway is to reward individuals with fairness.
He pointed out that there are options for both monetary and land compensation.
He added that the inventory of the land affected by the Batinah Expressway was carried out in 2005 by the Higher Committee for Urban Planning. A Property Valuation Committee was also formed to ascertain the compensation due, and no violations were recorded.
During the meeting, Council members also suggested that sites be allocated to the private sector, which can establish residential units and distribute them to those in need. Another member asked that land permits be provided for establishing private schools.
Al Shabibi affirmed the importance of the request, calling on the Shura Council to inform the Ministry of Housing of the private schools wishing to obtain land use rights if they have permits.
Members of the Council also appealed to Al Shabibi for support towards the Omani women’s Associations and other civil society institutions, towards granting them the appropriate land. The minister explained that there is no law as of yet that governs this issue.
Members of the Council also appealed for allocation of funds towards financial degrees for engineers in the directories of Property Ownership.