Jordan begins probe into $7bn housing project
AFP, Wednesday 23 Feb 2011
Corruption allegations rock residential scheme for low-income citizens

Jordan on Wednesday opened an investigation into a seven-billion-dollar housing project for low-income citizens after calls by MPs to probe the scheme over suspected corruption.

"Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit today referred the case of the 'Decent Home for Decent Living' project to the anti-corruption commission to examine it and do what is necessary," the state-run Petra news agency reported without elaborating.

The five-year plan launched in 2008 is aimed at building 100,000 homes in northern, central and southern parts of Jordan, according to the government. Each would be sold for about US$33,000 dollars, in 240 installments.

Deputies this month demanded the government investigate the scheme, saying "there is a lot of fuss and corruption allegations" about it, as well as "technical problems and errors" related to the infrastructure and the quality of the apartments.

Jordanians have been demonstrating since January to demand political and economic reforms, calling for an end to graft and for officials suspected of corruption to be put on trial, regardless of their rank.

Poverty levels are running at 25 per cent in the kingdom of more than six million people, while unemployment is about 14 per cent, although unofficial estimates put the jobless figure at 30 per cent.