SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 29) – Although building permits for projects [totaling] FJ$102.9 million [US$61.9 million] were issued in the third quarter of 2006, the industry expects many of these projects to be on hold because of the national crisis.

Some projects have even been cancelled, according to industry stakeholders.

Cope Construction Ltd general manager Satya Segran said the political situation had adversely affected business in the construction sector.

He said several commercial projects that were in the pipeline had disappeared and most residential projects had stopped.

A leading construction company owner who did not want to be named said both local and foreign investors were holding back on investment plans.

He said the industry was affected first by the prolonged impasse between the military and the ousted Qarase government, then they were slapped with the hike in interest rates and now the military takeover.

Nadi-based Australian Building Services general manager Paul Forrest said a downturn was evident and many of the company's construction projects had stopped.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, 474 projects were approved in the third quarter of 2006 compared to 478 projects worth $152.1million approved in the previous quarter.

Industry pundits predict that statistics for the fourth quarter will be much worse. Another stakeholder said the increase in interest rates made it more difficult for people to secure loans for housing projects.

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