Housing minister Bassem al-Hamer told the Shura Council on 11 January that the government is pushing ahead plans to build five new towns across the island nation.

The announcement comes at a time of anticipated dampening of government spending due to the price of oil over the past few months.

Shura Council member Redha Faraj tells MEED that while there are fears over limited government spending due to falling oil prices, he is expects that the focus of spending for the 2015 budget will be dominated by wages, social initiatives and the diversification of the financial service sector.

Government statistics reveal that there are currently 47,000 families on waiting lists to receive social housing.

Last May a target was set to build more than 40,000 government homes in eight years, with new urban areas planned for Hidd, Sitra, the Southern Governorate, Salmabad and Muharraq.

The Shura Council also postponed a vote on amendments to Bahrain’s housing law, which has been in place since 1976. The vote for amending the housing law has been pending for four years.

The adjustments included providing social housing for single women and mothers, as well as raising the salary cap for applicants.