Saudi Arabia plans to issue an Islamic bond, or sukuk, for its Real Estate Development Fund by the end of the 2017-18 financial year, the housing minister said.
“The sukuk programme is specialised for the real estate development fund,” Majed Al Hogail said.
The fund is the largest financier for the Saudi real estate sector and has a portfolio of about 190 billion Saudi riyals (Dh186bn), the minister said.
“We believe we can get cash flow from issuing sukuk for these loans and getting money to deal with the fund’s waiting list in the fastest time possible,” he said.
The minister also said the kingdom will announce the final regulations on an annual tax on undeveloped urban land in two weeks.
“Land fees are now complete and have been studied by all concerned entities, and within the next two weeks we will announce it.”
The ministry has said the new tax would be equivalent to 2.5 per cent of the value of the land held by individuals or non-government entities.
The introduction of a land tax, first announced by the cabinet in November, marks a big step for the world’s top oil-exporting country in addressing a housing shortage frequently griped about by young Saudis.
Analysts estimate that 40 to 50 per cent of the land inside major cities remains vacant, much of it owned by wealthy individuals or companies that have tended to hold or trade it for speculative profits rather than developing it for housing.
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