ECONOMY

Construction activity down 17 pct in October

Construction activity, as measured by the number of new building permits, fell 17.7 percent year-on-year in October after a 12.9 percent drop in September, the National Statistical Service (NSS) said yesterday. Building activity in the first 10 months of 2009 was down 15.6 percent year-on-year, it said. The NSS added that 4,752 new permits were issued nationwide in October, corresponding to 1.05 million square meters, versus 5,775 permits in the same month a year earlier. The slump in construction activity and the limited number of new homes being sold has helped property developers keep prices steady despite the economic crisis, according to economists. The construction sector contributes about 7 percent to total annual economic output and is one of the country’s key employers, providing some 400,000 jobs.