PROPERTY GUIDE Building Boom Leaves Housing Problem Unsolved Despite the huge building boom in the island, thousands of refugees are still living in shacks and are likely to spend their sixth winter in unsuitable dwellings. . ‘ An outline of the boom was given this week by the 1978 “Construction and Housing Report” issued by the government -- at the same time as refugees demonstrated in Nico- sia complaining that there were “thousands of displaced persons still living under miser- able conditions” and that there was a “big delay” in carrying out government - sponsored housing projects. NUMBER OF DWELLIWGS COMPLETED OURING 7S = 7e Suber Naber a) The report says that nearly 7,500 new houses were completed last year, an increase of al- most 15% over 1977. It also says that almost all the houses built by the fovernment are provided with solar heaters — an indication of the government's drive to conserve fuel and encourage the use of solar energy. The total gross output in the construction indus- try -- one of the most important sectors of the econa- my -- continued its upward trend last year, reaching the level of £96.2 m., as against £85.8 m. in 1977, an increase of just over 46 per cent. Private sector Most of the construc- tion was done by the pri- vate sector (66.7 per cent), and the rest by the govem- ment and loa! authorities, Of the £93.7 million in capital formation, in con- struction projects, £58.7 m. were invested in dwellings, £18.6 m. in non-residential buldings and the rest in in- frastructure projects, (The chairman of.the Civil Engineers and Archi- tects Association, Mr. Na- kos Protopapas claimed this week that there was no meee control on the price and quality of imported or manufactured building materials. He said impor- ters were sometimes mak- ing profits of over 50 per cent “and in some cases the profit exceeds 100 per cent”). “The fact that 62.6 per cent of the total construc- tion was carried out on dwellings is indicative of the big demand for housing that was created by the ref- ugeée problem”, the repart states.. 4 Costs up The report ako speaks | about the “significant in- Tease in costs” during the year. It says wages in the building industry rose “at a galloping rate” of 32.4 per cent over 1977. “The high demand for housing t- gether with the general reactivation of the island's economy resulted in ashor- tage of labour. in - hea struction indwstry which in turn accelerated the labour costs”. & The wholesale price index of the main construc- tion materials abo went up, by three. per cent. The in- (reases ‘ooncemed such materials as cement, sani- tary fixtures, gravel, sand and.paints. construction |. The report says of the total number of dwellings (7,495) completed last ye- ar, 3,628 were ‘in ur areas and 3,867 in. duret areas. In the first tnetaigon, only: 20 per cent were fi- nuanced by the government, while this proportion rose to per cent inthe case of houses built rural atess, ee The everage:‘nuniber of rooms for every’ new hope was found to be 5.1 for dwellings financed by the private sector, and 4.2 for those built by the public sector. ‘Of the total number of houses built by the private sector, 67 per cent were provided with solar heating (solar heaters were in- stalled on 58 per cent of houses in towns and $4 per cent of houses in rural areas}. / “In the case of dwell- ings financed by the gov- emment, nearly all were provided with solar heat- ing”. According to the re- port, the value added in the construction sector rose ta £51.5 m. at current prices last year (235.1 m. in 1977) and it: share of the total Cros Bortestic Product “went tp from 8.7 per cent to 11 per cent. 2000 1975 Construction work has gone down by about 15 per cent this Year compared with L978, according tothe Cyprus Civil Engineers and Archi- tects Association. “The building in- dustry will suffer deadly blow if no | Meusures are taken ta curb inflationary | pressures -- anel then- sands of peaple de pending on it wll also suffer). Mr Nakes Protopapas, chair tuan of the Assacia- tion, told the Cyprus Weekly. He said: “Building sites, honses, aprart- ments -- their price has gone op by 30 per cent Building iT? 1974 Down! this your, There has also been a rapid imerease in the price of imported inatetials, Who can uf- ford to build a house now, capecially with the credit squeeze imposed by banks”? . He believed the government could take some action to ease: in flationary pressures by “enforcing price contral regulations, cutting im- ports of building materi- ails atid encouraging the use oof locally made rrratberials, such as bricks, sund and gravel and wastes from miner- al operations, “We must not for- get that the building in- dustry is the backbone of the economy, with 60 ber cent of total invest. | Mhents”, Mi. Protopapas added.