Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has given governors a deadline of 30 May for reclaiming state-owned land that was illegally appropriated by private parties in recent decades, according to Al-Ahram Arabic website.
Details of the order were revealed by Local Development Minister Hisham El-Sherif at a press conference after Sunday's cabinet meeting.
The minister said that the premier met with the council of governors on Sunday to follow up on the reclamation of stolen state land and review various reports on the issue.
According to El-Sherif the prime minister has called on governors to finished the process of reclamation by 30 May. He did not reveal whether there would be any penalties or alternative plans in case of failure to meet the deadline.
El-Sherif did say, however, that the government is willing to make deals with businessmen who have cultivated land and made it productive, allowing the option of legalisation of their ownership in certain cases.
“For serious business owners who have cultivated their land, that land will be legalised,” El-Sherif said.
The minister added that those wishing to legalise their ownership should submit applications to the governor in each governorate.
Committees will be formed in each governorate and will coordinate with the national committee formed by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to reclaim stolen state land, headed by Egypt's former prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, he said.
The committee includes the minister of local development, the president’s aide for security affairs and counter-terrorism, and representatives from the justice, defence and finance ministries, as well as the General Intelligence Directorate.
Last week, at a televised conference, El-Sisi expressed his frustration at delays in the ongoing process of reclaiming state land, urging the interior ministry and the armed forces to put an end to such transgressions.
In an interview with state-owned newspapers on Wednesday, the president announced that he would hold a conference on the issue in two weeks time. The event will include the defence and interior ministers, governors, and the heads of the military and police, who will report on their efforts thus far.
“Transgressions on the land of the Egyptian people and the rights of the poor are a threat to Egypt’s security,” the president stated, calling on the media to take part in this “battle to reclaim the rights of the state and the people.”
Last December, the committee announced that it had restored 80,000 feddans of land illegally acquired at the expense of the state.