Private sector’s involvement a must

Updated 22 March 2013
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Private sector’s involvement a must

In tackling the essential role of governments in delivering housing, a speakers’ panel at the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) yesterday emphasized the need for government intervention and monitoring.
However, experts cautioned that governments are not solely responsible for the daunting task of providing affordable housing and require the cooperation of both the private and banking sectors.
Conveying the Irish experience and lessons learned, Jan O’Sullivan, minister of housing and planning, said the Irish government has established regulatory bodies for planning, implementing and monitoring public housing.
“Governments have an essential role in resolving the housing crisis and pushing the private sector to provide low-cost housing,” she said.
O’Sullivan shed light on the concept of collective housing in Ireland, which is one of the best models of public housing in Europe, as underprivileged citizens pay 25 percent of the cost, while the remaining costs are shouldered by the government and private investors as part of their social responsibility programs.
Mohammad Besbas of Tunisia, elaborated on the points raised by O’Sullivan, noting that the success of the Tunisian experience stems from institutionalizing the housing sector.
“We have developed three real-estate bodies in the north, south and center of the country in order to eliminate bureaucracy and centralization and to be able to provide effective local solutions suitable to each region. The government’s role is restricted to monitoring and overseeing the work of these real-estate bodies,” he said.
Abdullah Al-Nuaim, chairman, board of trustees and president of the Arab Urban Development Institute, highlighted some of the challenges facing the Kingdom in housing, reminding the attendees that despite the abundant natural resources in the country, Saudi Arabia remains a developing nation.
He said the housing sector began creating 60,000 housing units in the past few years, but the major shift came about with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s decision to construct 500,000 new accommodation units.
Moreover, 2.5 million land grants have been given to citizens over the past years to ease the housing crisis.


Citizen rewarded after new car turned out to be used

Updated 32 min 20 sec ago
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Citizen rewarded after new car turned out to be used

RIYADH: A citizen from Buraidah has been rewarded by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI) for complaining about a commercial fraud. He exposed an auto agency who sold him a “new car” which turned out to be second-hand with a chequered history.
The MCI granted a reward of SR25,000 to Hamad Faleh Al-Qahtani, who reported the fraud.
He bought a new car from the auto agency and made the full payment, but soon realized he had been given a second-hand car.
Not only was it used but it had also been in a crash and been repaired and repainted, which was contrary to what had been agreed upon and in violation of the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law. The ministry followed up the matter with investigations to find the truth and take legal action.
The matter was referred to the public prosecution and then to the Administrative Court in Buraidah, which issued the final verdict that the agency was guilty of violating the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law.
The agency was fined SR100,000 ($26,687). Article 11 of the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law states that anyone reporting a case of commercial fraud which is found to be true upon investigation shall be granted 25 percent of the value of the fine.
The MCI honors 100 informers by granting them financial rewards and gifts on World Consumer Rights Day, which is observed on March 15 every year to foster global awareness about consumer rights and needs. The day was inspired by US president John F. Kennedy, the first world leader to formally address the issue of consumer rights.
The consumer movement first marked that date in 1983 and uses it every year to mobilize action on important issues.
The MCI has urged consumers to report commercial frauds through the Consumer Call Center (1900), through the application of a commercial violation report and through the ministry’s website.